Clarified and Compound butter are not recipes as much as they are concepts on how to make butter more versatile and delicious! Learning to use these simple methods of infusing butter with a variety of flavors will revolutionize how you cook!
Thanks to the United Dairy Industry of Michigan for sponsoring this post.
Last Spring if you remember I was lucky enough to spend a whole day at ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) in NYC learning about butter and how to cook with it. It was a glorious day to say the least. Truly life changing…and pant size altering!
It was there that I learned of clarified butter.
What is clarified butter? To understand what clarified butter is we must first know what butter is. Butter is made from cream, and cream is the thick high in fat substance that rises to the top of milk, the cream is skimmed off the top and drinking milk is left. The cream has many uses but today we are going to talk about my favorite, butter. The butter that you get in the US is 80% milk fat and 20% milk solids and water. Cooking butter slowly over low heat cooks off the water and separates the milk solids to the top, which are then skimmed off and what’s left is deep golden pure butterfat a.k.a. clarified butter. (Also known as drawn butter.)
Why clarify butter?
*Clarified butter has a higher smoke point. This allows you to cook with butter at a higher temperatures without browning or burning.
*Clarified butter is more stable. Minus the milk solids butter will not go rancid and keeps in a sealed glass container for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.
*You may find that you prefer the flavor of clarified butter, which is cleaner and lighter tasting than butter which is full of water and milk solids.
*If you are lactose intolerant you will be able to tolerate clarified butter since all of the milk solids have been removed. However, if you have a milk allergy you will still want to steer clear because of the small amount of milk that may be left behind.
Uses for Clarified Butter
Clarified butter is traditionally used in restaurants and at home for dipping seafood such as crab, lobster , or shrimp in. Because of it’s higher smoke point, clarified butter works perfectly for sauteing and frying foods. Clarified butter infused with herbs, and spices is perfect stirred into rice, couscous, and drizzled over cooked meat and fish.
Ghee is also a form of clarified butter used in Indian cooking, the difference is the milk solids are allowed to caramelize and brown before being removed or strained from the butter leaving the butter fat with a nuttier richer flavor, than traditional clarified butter.
How to clarify Butter
There will be small bits of milk solids that are hard to remove, this is why you will need to pour through a tight mesh strainer or cheese cloth to remove the last bits. After cooling store in an airtight jar that seals tightly. Butter takes on the flavors of other foods easily and you don’t want your beautiful clarified butter picking up the flavors of other foods in your refrigerator.
Clarified Butter ~ what you will need
2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1 sauce pan
1 large spoon, for skimming
1 wire or cloth mesh, for straining
You will need a heat safe glass container with a lid that seals.
Place sticks of butter in saucepan over lowest heat possible allow to melt without stirring. Once butter has melted the milk solids will float to the top and separate away from the butter fat. Carefully skim off with spoon, trying your best not to scoop any of the butter fat up. Pour through a tight mesh strainer or cheese cloth in to a glass container. Allow to cool, cover with lid, and store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Yield: 2/3-3/4 cups clarified butter
Note: Once all of the milk solids have been removed, any variety of herbs, spices, and flavorings can be added. Add flavorings to the clarified butter allow to heat through for a few minutes (still keeping heat on low) remove from heat and let cool, pour through strainer to remove particles. Idea for flavoring: garlic, sage, citrus zest, saffron, cinnamon, red pepper flakes. Anything you would like to flavor your food with.
There you have it that’s the skinny on clarified butter, now for a little lesson in compound butter. Sound like you might need to get out your calculator? No sir! No calculator required.
butter + flavorful ingredients = compound butter
It’s as easy as 1 2 3!
I had been making compound butters for years and didn’t even know it! I just called them flavored butters! Which is what in fact compound butter is.
Compound Butter is unsalted butter softened and combined with other ingredients to enhance the flavor and versatility of the butter.
There really isn’t a right or wrong way to make compound butter. Like I said it’s as easy as combining butter with your favorite flavors. To help you get started I’m going to give you a few of my favorites.
Compound Butter Ideas
Combine 1 or 2 sticks of softened (not melted) unsalted butter with any of the following, be sure to mix well and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Note: you can use salted butter, I prefer to use unsalted and then add salt to my liking.
Herb Butter ~ 1 stick butter + any one or all of the following herbs chopped finely. rosemary, dill, thyme, sage, basil, cilantro, parsley
Raspberry Butter ~ 1 10 ounce jar Raspberry Preserves added to 2 sticks Butter, whip with mixer. This butter is amazing spread on corn cake served as a side to a spicy bowl of chili! (I have my friend Beth to thank for this scrumptious combination!)
Blackberry Honey Butter ~ Whole fresh black berries, honey, and butter mashed together. This is amazing on French Toast!
Garlic Parmesan Herb Butter ~ to 2 sticks unsalted Butter add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese, 1/2 teaspoon Oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Basil, 1/2 teaspoon of minced Garlic, and 1/4 cup fresh chopped Parsley. Add salt if you like. This is amazing spread on Italian bread and toasted under the broiler.
Garlic ~ 2 softened sticks of butter with as much minced garlic as you dare! Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cilantro Lime ~ 1 stick unsalted Butter softened, 1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro, and 1 teaspoon Lime Zest, and a squeeze of Lime Juice. This butter is tasty mixed in with rice, served over grilled fish or chicken, or over any fresh vegetable you like.
Orange Basil ~ same as above only switch out the lime for orange and the cilantro for basil. This butter is life changing!
Honey Mustard ~ 1 Stick Butter, 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard, 2 tablespoons Honey combine well. Serve over Chicken, Fish, any vegetable, or as a spread for sandwich wraps. Don’t be afraid to adjust the amounts to your liking.
Maple Butter ~ 2 sticks butter, 1/2 cup pure Maple Syrup whip together with mixer and store in an airtight container in refrigerator. This is amazing spread on toast, waffles, pancakes, fresh toast, plopped on oatmeal, or cream of wheat, or my favorite spread thick on a warm buttermilk biscuit.
Peanut Butter Honey~ I grew up on this one! You can read my post on it here.
Christmas Spice Butter ~ 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup Maple Syrup, 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon, 1 dash of Clove, and a dash of Nutmeg mix well. Use on whatever your heart desires!
Blue Cheese Rosemary Butter ~ 1 stick softened unsalted Butter, 1/2 cup crumbled Blue Cheese, 1 teaspoon finely chopped Rosemary.