Ghee is a delicious and versatile cooking fat. A variant of clarified butter, it’s been used in India for over five thousand years, prized for its nutty flavor and shelf-stable keeping qualities. Because its smoke point is 472F ghee is uniquely suited to high temperature cooking, which makes it the best way to sear on the Cinder Grill.
What Makes Ghee So Special
Ghee is a kind of clarified butter, but not all clarified butter is ghee. Because ghee is cooked slowly in order to vaporize the water content and precipitate the milk proteins, it is 100% pure fat, free of the milk sugars of ordinary butter. This makes it a valuable food in the ketogenic diet. Also, the toasted milk proteins contribute a delicious nutty flavor to the ghee, even though they are ultimately removed.
Why Ghee Sears Better Than Butter
By their nature, all cooking fats and oils have a smoke point, a temperature at which they combust. Butter is delicious, and its sugars and proteins contribute to browning, but they also burn at relatively low heat. Searing temperature turns butter acrid and unhealthy.
Because ghee has been purified of these components, it doesn’t burn at butter’s low temperatures. In fact, the cooking process that produces ghee also shifts some of the fatty acids into more heat stable forms, all of which enables ghee to resist burning even at high heat. Yet ghee retains the rich flavor of butter, and also contributes its own delicious nuttiness.
Photo credit Nijole Byer
Using Ghee in Cooking On The Cinder
While the Cinder’s plates are made of durable nonstick, it doesn’t hurt to lubricate the food with a little cooking fat. Most fats are suitable for use during the cooking phase, but ones that bring flavor enhancement are preferable, and ghee is very flavorful. Furthermore, most flavorful fats have relatively low smoke points, but ghee can withstand the heat, producing a beautiful and delicious crust during the searing phase.
Using Ghee as an Ingredient
Ghee is also a valuable ingredient. The Cinder Grill’s versatility extends to foods such as pancakes and ice cream cones. To these, ghee can add a supple texture as well as rich flavor. And while butter makes all vegetables better, ghee-based sauces can make them better still, and are less likely to break.
Ghee is nutritious, delicious, and widely available, both in specialty groceries and increasingly in supermarkets. Or make some at home -- it’s easy to do and only takes a little time. Using ghee has the potential to bring your dishes to new heights, especially when paired with the Cinder Grill.