Some of you may be familiar with smen, Moroccan aged butter famed for its powerful, tantalizing aroma. Oudi is a milder alternative to smen prepared in the Berber region of Souss in southern Morocco by clarifying butter in toasted barley and local mountain herbs such as dried thyme (the much-beloved azoukenni of the Berber people) or oregano.
According to cookbook author Paula Wolfert, the use of toasted barley grits to clarify butter is “an old Mediterranean trick, employed to absorb milk solids and other debris and endow the butter with a lovely faintly smoky aroma.”
A little touch of oudi brightens any dish, adding a lovely herb aroma and a faint “aged butter” taste to stews, tagines, couscous, soups and baked goods.
I strained the butter into a bowl for esthetic purposes but using a pitcher is more practical and makes it easier to transfer oudi into jars.
MOROCCAN CLARIFIED BUTTER RECIPE
YIELD: MAKES ABOUT 1 1/3 POUNDS
TOTAL TIME: 30 MINUTES
¼ cup barley grits
1 teaspoon dried thyme or dried Mediterranean oregano
2 ½ pounds unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Toast the barley grits and thyme (or oregano) in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until light brown and fragrant. Add the butter and let it melt undisturbed. Remove the foam as it appears on the surface. When the butter is clear, remove it from the heat and let it cool.
Pour the butter through a strainer lined with a few layers of damp cheesecloth into a pitcher. Discard the solids. Transfer into glass jars.
Closed jars of Oudi will keep for several months in the refrigerator.