||Clarifying butter is a process used to separate the milk solids from the oily butterfat in butter. You've probably experienced puttting whole butter into a hot pan - it quickly turns brown. That browning is the milk solids cooking. They just can't tolerate higher heats.
To get the butter taste without the browning, clarify butter. Slowly melt whole butter over low heat. You'll eventually see three layers form. The top layer is foamy and made up of water and milk - skin it off and discard. The deep yellow middle layer is the butterfat - pour this off into a container. This is the clarified butter you want to use for sauteing. What's left in the bottom are the milk solids - discard them.
|Making Creme Fraiche
||Many recipes call for creme fraiche, a thick, tangy French cream similar to sour cream, but smoother and richer. Its body and thickness comes from natural bacteria in unpasteurized cream. But since this is an unpasteurized process, we have to improvise in the States by using the natural fermenting agents in buttermilk. Mix one cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and one tablespoon lemon juice. Cover and let sit at room temperature 6-8 hours, then refrigerate. Creme fraiche is great for cooking because of its rich flavor and stability - it doesn't break when heated, unlike sour cream.
||To melt dark, milk, and white chocolates for dipping or recipes, use a double boiler set
over barely simmering water (a heatproof bowl nested over a saucepan makes a great double boiler.) Take the chocolate off the heat
before all lumps are totally gone - they'll melt as the chocolate sits. Microwaving on high power works too, but stir the chocolate every
30 seconds to keep it from scorching. Chop the chocolate into small pieces for quick melting.
If using a double boiler, it's critical that no water or steam gets in the chocolate. Just a drop will cause the chocolate to "seize,"
or stiffen, and render it useless.
|Deglazing a Pan
||After sauteing or roasting, look at the bottom of the pan. Those dark food particles
stuck to the bottom are caramelized drippings from the meat juices. This is called "fond," a French term loosely meaning bottom
or foundation. Fond is loaded with flavor; and can be used to make gravy or added to sauces. The best way to capture these flavorful
deposits is by deglazing. Add any liquid like wine, stock, or water to the pan and start scraping vigorously whole bringing the liquid to a boil.
This is your "foundation of flavor" for sauce or gravy.|
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Eleisia and Randall Whitney
Watkins Independent Associate
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