Gee, it’s ghee!

Carbolicious, Mixed bag | January 16, 2014 | By

Well finally. You may have been able to guess from my last post that I’ve been feeling flumpy lately. When you cook dangerously, you take certain risks, going for ingredients you’ve never tried – maybe they’re great, but maybe there’s a reason you haven’t tried them. I seem to have gone through a series of these flumps (I’m going to patent that word) in the last month but this time I discovered a winner. A staple. As in, a “this needs to be in your pantry,” staple, as opposed to a “who took my Swingline” staple. Office Space anyone?

Swingline

Last week at our small, run-of-the-mill grocery store, I noticed “ghee,” somewhere near the butter section.

GheeI was excited to try it, because everyone knows it’s butter made of tigers. How much more dangerous can you get than that? You’re questioning this information? Well, I didn’t check the ingredient list closely, but if you’ve ever read the kids’ book “The Boy and the Tigers,” or “The Story of Little Babaji,” or, if you’re old like me, “Little Black Sambo,” then you know what I’m talking about. The first two titles are a rebranding of the last book, which obviously had racist undertones and so was changed. At first I wondered, “Hm, change the kid from black to Indian and we’re all good?” but when I read more, the change made sense – the original story was actually set in Imperial India and it was mostly the illustrations that were offensive, so they more accurately made the kid “Babaji” or “Rajani,” and the story was preserved. I have to admit I’m glad, because otherwise future generations would have no idea that ghee is made of tigers.

And now a brief synopsis of the book for those who wonder WTH (What the Heck) I’m talking about. Babaji’s mom buys him some swanky new clothes. Babaji prances around in them in the Great Indian Outdoors, and he’s approached by a number of tigers, each one accepting something to wear in exchange for not chowing down on Babaji. In the end, Babaji is naked, and the tigers get jealous of one another and argue, chasing each other around a palm tree so fast that they turn into … drumroll … ghee!

Tiger butter

Babaji retrieves his stuff, and his dad, penny-wise Papaji comes along and scoops up the tiger butter for Mamaji to cook with.

Papaji

Babaji downs 169 of the pancakes, piggie that he is, but I guess all that tiger negotiation made him hungry.

Babaji

And I guess the lesson there is, if you nearly give away all of your expensive stuff to wild animals but you get it back, make sure to celebrate in a big way.

But back to ghee. Ghee is really cool. When they can’t find a tiger, they make it by heating regular butter until the water is boiled off, and then they remove the milk solids. What you’re left with is “clarified butter,” which can actually reduce cholesterol in smaller doses. It’s lactose free for you lactoids out there, and it has stable bonds, so that it doesn’t make free radicals like heated vegetable oil does. It helps with absorption of vitamins, and aids digestion rather than slowing it like butter or other oils. It tastes and smells extra buttery – you’ll recognize the smell if you like lobster. And best of all (for you foodie cooks) it has a high “smoke point,” so that it doesn’t burn if you cook with it at higher temperatures. Yippee for ghee!

I should definitely have made pancakes with the ghee, right? Well guess what, I did! But not entirely on purpose. I searched “ghee” on one of my favourite recipe spaces, epicurious.com, and came up with a handful of recipes, including one for homemade naan bread. Although traditional naan is made in a tandoor oven, this recipe just calls for a heavy pan. Which means … pancakes! (Naan-cakes?). Here’s how it went down:

Tiger Onion Naan-cakes (Makes 10. Give yourself time)

  • Four tigers, thoroughly exercised into a pulp (if unavailable, proceed with remaining ingredients)
  • 3/4C whole milk
  • 8g package dry yeast (1/4oz)
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2C all purpose flour, plus more for de-sticking things
  • 1 tsp kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1C whole milk yogurt (not Greek, for some reason)
  • 2Tbsp melted ghee plus extra for frying

Directions: Heat milk in small saucepan until it reaches 100F. Transfer to small bowl and whisk in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk flour with 1tsp salt in a large bowl to blend. Add yeast mix, onion, yogurt, and 2Tbsp ghee.

Dough

Mix dough until blended but shaggy. Transfer to floured work surface and knead that mofo until smooth. Add flour periodically to reduce stickiness. Do this about 5 minutes.

Grease another bowl with ghee and then roll your dough ball around in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled for about 1 hour.

Punch it down. This is a good recipe to make if you have inner frustrations, or if a tiger just stole your stuff and you’re angry you didn’t manage to get it back. Divide into 10 pieces. Using floury hands, roll each piece into a ball. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Naan dough

Heat some ghee in a heavy skillet over med-high heat. Roll your dough into an oblong shape, as thin as you can get it, and pan fry like a pancake, about 2 minutes a side. Wrap in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

1-IMG_5812

Results: Fabulous. This recipe takes some time obviously, but the bread was chewy with that onion surprise sweetness throughout, and it was just as good the next day. It wouldn’t have had the same flavour if it hadn’t been cooked in that “healthy” buttery ghee. Ghee is my new butter, even the tiger-free variety. Rating: 5 Yums!

And on a long-delayed note, I must mention a beautiful Christmas present I got from my blog friends Joanna and Mike at midwesternbite.com.

Chicken ball

You may recall that this year they adopted some chickens, and I won the privilege of naming Mistress Billington (she is a plymouth chicken, Mistress Billington was a famous pilgrim…). I now consider myself her Canadian mother (the chicken, not the pilgrim, she’s long dead). So the Midwestern Bite Family sent me two Christmas tree balls with some of Mistress Billington’s feathers in them. They’re super pretty, and near and dear to my heart. Aren’t the very coolest gifts ones that may not come from Tiffany’s, but that you still find yourself yelling at your kids, “Don’t TOUCH that, I will be VERY upset if you break it!!!!”

Kids and chicken balls

I let them hold them for a brief photo op only. It’s been great getting to know you both better this year and it brightens my day whenever I see something new from my “penpals.” Thanks!

PS I love how the note said it was from the Midwestern “Bile” family. Joanna is pregnant, so maybe the bile had to do with her heartburn?

PPS Please ignore the cupboards on the floor behind my kids, we had a pipe burst in the frigid cold while we were on vacation. Surprise reno! (I’m trying to pretend like I’m not happy about the new kitchen).

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Mike @ Midwestern Bite
    January 17, 2014

    Very glad you like it! That was a much nicer “Thank You” than my Mom who forced a smile and then probably doused her ornament with a full can of Lysol first chance she got.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      January 17, 2014

      Funny you should mention, we have all seem to have come down with bird flu and a nasty case of fleas. I hadn’t put two and two together… Ha! Thanks again!!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
    January 17, 2014

    Can I just say this is proof that my husband was right about me (don’t tell him I said so, okay?) I do in fact have terrible penmanship. In my defense, I have excellent chalkmanship. Seriously, when I write on the driveway in chalk it’s totally legible.

    Glad you liked the ornaments! Oh and we aren’t totally sure, but we think Mistress Billington might be one of the THREE chickens laying eggs these days!

    Love the ghee post. I love drawn butter so ghee would be right up my ally. For some reason I always pass by it at the store though. I’ll have to fix that. I bet a Mistress Billington egg would be mighty tasty fried in some ghee . . . mmmm Mistress Billington egg in ghee . . .

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      January 17, 2014

      So where are all the egg recipes on midwesternbite? With three egg layers you qualify as an expert! Aw, my little chick has become a hen. I’m going to throw her a cotillion (I think that’s a thing?). The cotillion might just be me and a bottle of wine, but…

      • Leave a Reply

        Mike @ Midwestern Bite
        January 17, 2014

        Gentleman Farmer Livestock Biology Semantic Alert!
        Gentleman Farmer Livestock Biology Semantic Alert!
        Gentleman Farmer Livestock Biology Semantic Alert!

        No worries. Your little Mistress Billington is still an adolescent pullet. Female chickens less than one year of age are called Pullets. Female chickens older than one year are called Hens. Has nothing to do with egg production.

        You’re welcome. 😉

        • Leave a Reply

          Ann Allchin
          January 17, 2014

          Not sure it’s good news that we’re in the teen year, but thanks for the gentleman farmer bio info. Lock the chicken liquor cabinet and be sure to sniff her beak for evidence of cigs.

      • Leave a Reply

        Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
        January 17, 2014

        It’s funny you should mention egg recipes because Mike and I have talked recently about what we’ll do with all the eggs . . . once they start rolling in. We have 3 out of 7 chickens laying but they don’t lay every day so we average 2 eggs per day. The toddler and I eat three scrambled eggs together in the morning . . . so we’re still behind. As Mike likes to say, he can’t quit his day job yet.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Trevor
    January 17, 2014

    Alas, each time I get a notification of a new post by you in my email, I am both filled with happy anticipation over having something enjoyable to read and anxiety over knowing I’ll be forced to face the fact I don’t know as much as I sometimes think I do. I always look forward to your posts – I find them as refreshing as a cold beer after I pretend to know how to play tennis. Although I knew about Ghee and Naan, I had no idea about the Tiger story. For lack of better words and because The Burger Nerd is so gosh darn “street”, I have to say “I love shit like this.” Plus you roped me in to reading it by your Office Space pic. Have a great weekend and as always, enjoyed your post.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      January 17, 2014

      I would always happily pretend to play tennis, as long as there’s beer and no tennis. Deuce, Burger Nerd! (That means I like your blog in a mutually enjoyable way)

  4. Leave a Reply

    Aly
    February 3, 2014

    I love this! I’ve wanted to make naan, and my friend bought me ghee to play with. Now I can do both! I wish it could use Greek yogurt since that’s the kind in my fridge right now. I’ll have to wait for the next grocery visit.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      February 3, 2014

      I bet it would actually work with Greek yogurt. Did you ever hear the story about the roast beef? Once there was a new bride, and her husband watched her prepare a roast beef for dinner. She grabbed a knife, hacked off a third of it, threw it in the garbage, and cooked the rest. The husband asked, “Hey, why are you throwing out that good roast beef?” She said, “I don’t know, that’s just how my mother did it. I’ll ask her.” They ask the mother. Her mother says, “I don’t know, that’s just how my mother always did it.” They go find the grandmother and ask her, and she says, “Well I only had a short little pan.”

      This is supposed to be a story to tell you not to accept things the way they’ve always been done. But taken more directly… maybe hundreds of people have always assumed Greek yogurt won’t work because one weirdo said it wouldn’t. Give ‘er a try!

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