Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chile Independence

Every September 18 in Chile they celebrate their Independence or Chile’s Fiestas Patrias.  In Chile they have a 3 to 10 day party.  Store and offices close on the Friday at 1pm and don't open up till Tuesday.  It's a huge celebration that I've always wanted to be in Chile for.  My dad always told that I should witness it once in my life because it is impressive and you get eat a lot!!  Great food is everywhere and lots of red wine for drinking, "fondas" they are like fairs, fireworks, musics, parades.  People are everywhere happy, dancing the Queca and in festive spirits.

Here in Kitchener we have a good size of Chilean population.  The neighborhood I grew up in was a Latino filled complex and this day they always have a dinner with music dancing and Empanadas!!  Yummy, yummy Empanadas.  A traditional meal that you wash down with a Pisco Sour.

Picture taken from Cachando Chile

So this event got me thinking about making Empanadas again.  We make them twice a year, usually at the request of a family member.   We make about a 100 or more so everyone has some to take home.  It takes about 2 days to make, quite a bit of work and a couple of oven going at the same time.  But it is all worth it.

Last time we made them was this past February

The challenge this time around is that I want to make the Empanadas healthier.  In the past 2 weeks I have done a lot of research and test making of different types of food, version of thing I eat but without out dairy, gluten and any process types of ingredients.  I learned quite a bit and was disgusted by some of the things that we consider "food".  One of the ingredients that is used to make the dough of the Empanada is shortening.  Shortening is so unhealthy for you, it is basically rotten vegetable oil that has deodorants and dyes, it also contains trans fats.  My alternatives are using coconut oil or ghee.
Ghee is also known as clarified butter.  It is butter with the milk proteins are removed, which makes it more digestible for the lactose intolerant than butter.
 Step one in making my healthier Empanadas is picking up some ghee from the Indian Grocery store.
As part of my goals in life, to be self reliant I choose to make my own ghee.  There was a brick of unsalted butter in the fridge just waiting to be use for something.

So here is how you make Ghee:
You will need : 1 lb of organic, unsalted butter (1/2 kg will do)

My method:
1. Heat the butter on medium-high heat, in a medium size sauce pot, until it melts.
2. Turn the heat down and let the butter boil for about 15-20 minutes. It will start to foam like crazy to the top of the pot.  Remove the foam with a spoon so you can see inside the pot.  You will hear the butter crackle and pop, that is the water evaporating so do not cover.
The milk solids will start to separate and settle on the bottom.  The ghee will be the golden liquid that floats on the top.  Your ghee will be ready when the noises stop and your can see little brown flecks at the bottom.  You want your milk solids to be toasty brown but not burnt, because if they are burnt so is your ghee.
3. Strain the ghee through cheese cloth or a fine sieve, I had neither so I used a coffee filter which works as good.  Store in a an air tight glass jar at room temperature.  Once it cools and solidifies it will be a creamy light yellow.

Ghee is a saturated fat as it comes from animal fat, ghee has no hydrogenated fat if made from pure butter, which is considered healthier for that reason, if eaten in moderation.

When using it in cooking you do not need to use as much when a recipes ask for butter or shortening.  Ghee goes a long way.  One teaspoon of ghee would give you the same amount of flavor as a couple of tablespoons of butter or oil, roughly speaking.

So know that I have my ghee, I can start by trying some different dough recipes.

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