Clarified butter! Many people will go their entire lives without ever using this stuff, and that’s okay. I don’t think I realized it was a “thing” until culinary school. Up until then, I think I just ignored the concept entirely.
Why is it important? Clarified butter can be heated to much higher temperatures without changing the quality of food. In layman’s terms, butter consists of milk proteins and solids so once butter is heated to a high temperature those milk solids start to burn/brown creating it’s own flavor. Think brown butter sauce, or adding butter under the turkey so that the skin browns up nicely for those Thanksgiving Instagram pictures.
When you clarify butter you remove the milk protein/solids so that the butter, when melted, looks clear. It then is easier to use at higher temperature without burning. This is important if you want to sear a steak, you can easily heat up clarified butter to a high temperature without jeopardizing your meat with burnt butter. Or you can use clarified butter to make an omelette without adding a brown color to the outside. Lastly, clarified butter gives that velvety smooth consistency to hollandaise sauce.
How to clarify butter, you will need:
Cheesecloth & strainer
A clean container for storage
Place the butter in the pot and place on the stove over low/medium heat until it’s melted. Turn the heat up to medium/high. The butter will then separate, you will see the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pot and start to brown/burn. Once you can spoon out the butter and see clearly the spoon through the butter then it’s clarified. It can be a little brown in color, that’s okay.
Place the cheesecloth inside of the strainer over a bowl and pour the hot butter so that it strains through both the cheesecloth and strainer.
There you have it! Clarified butter. You can use it as a liquid or solid, it will firm up eventually.
Note: You can clarify as much butter as you would like, it keeps in the fridge like normal butter. Try to keep it from being contaminated so that it will remain useful for all dishes.