Lean and lovin' it: Butter's back on top, but ghee is bigger and better
By Don Mauer
Daily Herald Correspondent
In this column's early years I created a fat-free chocolate cake that I showcased on Good Morning America. Nonfat yogurt did a decent job as butter's stand-in, even though my cake lacked butter's big flavor impact.
Due to all its fat, as well as that cholesterol thing, I was certain I'd never get to enjoy butter again. Looking back it's difficult to understand how so many of us learned to fear butter. For some, even today, fear's still the correct word.
Flash forward to the 21st century where butter starred on the cover of Time magazine's June 23, 2014, issue with the headline: "Eat Butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong."
Wrong? After more studies and other studies re-evaluated; it sure seems so.
We all considered saturated fats and cholesterol the "baddies," and many of us who regularly wrote about fats spanked those "baddies" all the time; using lard, coconut oil and butter as the foods we should all avoid.
I admit it; I missed butter. Oh, did I miss it. Nothing filled the crevices of an English muffin like melted butter or topped hot popped corn quite so well. Poundcake didn't taste as good with a butter substitute, like margarine.
Since that Time issue, butter's been back in a big way. That doesn't mean consuming butter in unlimited quantities like the folks years ago who used to eat a pound of bacon for an Atkins' high-protein, high-fat breakfast. No. And, it doesn't mean that all butters, no matter the source or type, are good for us.
The current thinking: the best butter that may promote health is butter produced from all grass-fed cow's milk. Also, better butter should be unsalted and certified organic.
My favorites these days are Anchor brand butter from New Zealand (anchorbutter.com), followed closely by Kerrygold brand Irish butter (kerrygoldusa.com). Both widely available here and reasonably priced for their quality.
After exploring butter that gives the edge to being healthy, I discovered ghee; a form of butter that's supposed to be almost miraculously healthy. I'd never really tasted ghee with intention; until now.
First issue: where to get ghee and not just any ghee; ghee that's organic and made from milk from pastured, all grass-fed cows? Of course I headed to the internet and was fortunate to find a 32 ounce bottle of Vital Ghee brand ghee on Amazon ($42.75). Fortunately a little ghee goes a long way.
My first taste of Vital Ghee's ghee literally astounded me, the buttery flavor almost exploding on my tongue. "This is what butter's supposed to taste like," I said out loud. My mind raced thinking about all the possibilities: brownies, cakes, sauces, sautéing, whipped potatoes.
Ghee's actually butter oil because the water and milk solids that make butter, butter has been removed. Without the milk solids, ghee can safely be used to saute, because it has a very high smoke point (485 degrees -- olive oil's smoke point's 405; butter's 350). Ghee needs no refrigeration; store it at a cool room temperature. See, amazing.
My chocolate zucchini bread recipe has appeared here before; using olive oil for shortening. Using ghee creates a better texture and a bigger, butter flavor. Give it a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.