This month finishes up our "Fats & Oils" series of articles. Last month, I wrote in-depth on how to choose what fats and oils you will be wanting to use (link below). The month before that, Diane Boone explained all about olive oils (link below). And finally, this month I'll be talking about what you can do with these fats and oils now that you know all about them. We'll be discussing how to make your own flavored oils, a few of the numerous uses for butter, and more.|
Starting off with most peoples' favorite, because it's so versatile, we will talk about butter. Butter can obviously be very useful on its own, but after playing with it a little, you will discover a multitude of uses for it:
-To increase the smoking point of butter (which will allow you to cook foods in it at a higher temperature), you can make clarified butter. To make this, first melt, then SLOWLY cook the butter in a saucepan until the butter becomes extremely clear as the milk solids drop to the bottom of the pan. As the butter clarifies, skim the foam off the top. After it's clarified, ladel out the clarified butter, discarding the milk solids.
Moving on, we will now discuss how to make flavored oils. If you're looking for something new to use with marinades or to brighten your sauces, then this is for you. As we've been doing recently in the restaurant I work at, you might also replace the plain butter with flavored oil to have with the bread on the center of your tables. Just make sure the waitstaff doesn't drop a jar of garlic oil on the carpet (we've learned the hard way that the smell is extremely difficult to remove). Although these oils are extremely easy and affordable to make with your personal touch, you can also purchase pre-flavored oils at a variety of stores and through many purveyors. The great thing about these oils is that there's no set way for you to make them. If you like, you can steep a spice, herb, or citrus fruit in barely warm oil for awhile, then put the oil away, allowing it to continue to steep during refrigeration. With this method, you can just strain the oil whenever you need it and leave the rest for later. Another method is to make a sort of puree-oil by slowly cooking a vegetable in the oil to release the flavor, such as celery, later pureeing the vegetable with the oil. A third way is to cook ingredients like lobster shells, shrimp shells, garlic skins, etc. in the oil, later straining them out before using that oil. Because it's probably the most popular, we've included a recipe for roasted garlic oil below. Other ideas for ingredients for you to play with would be to use cloves, cumin, chili, ginger, tomato, saffron, mint, oregano, or even horseradish.
As mentioned in last month's article, we also have provided a couple of charts on our website regarding fats and oils (link below). The first chart has the descriptions of various different fats and oils and whether they're best for salad dressings, pan frying, wok cooking, or something else. The second chart shows the smoking points of various fats and oils, giving you an idea of how hot a cooking method each one can handle.
If you have any questions about things mentioned in this article, anything else regarding fats and oils, or any other questions regarding a culinary or Christian subject, we welcome you to post it in our fairly new and easy to use message boards (link below). Please feel free to submit replies to others' questions as well as to assist in everybody's learning experience here. God bless and happy cooking!!!
by Ira Krizo, CCF Director
Fats & Oils charts:
Last month's article, Part 1 of 2 on "Fats & Oils":
The prior month's article on Olive Oils: