Wednesday, February 13, 2013

cooking with animal fat

My parents grew up in a time when people still cooked with animal fats. Pork fat, chicken fat, duck fat ... it added flavour to the dishes, bolstered a diet that was decidedly more simple (and vegetarian), and meant that no part of the animal was wasted. They remember these dishes fondly and more than a bit wistfully - those taste memories are from a time that's long gone. 

So what's happened? Why does the thought of cooking with animal fat induce shudders? Certainly, nutrition, for one. People are worried (and rightfully so) about 'bad' cholesterol and overall health. And being in North America, where no one actually butchers their own meat, how do we even collect animal fat? A mistake, my friends. We need to be cooking more with animal fat.

But I'm talking like it's something I do regularly. I don't. But I should be saving the duck fat, and this ... beef fat ... to sear my steaks. Back in August 2011, my aunt came to visit from Tokyo, bearing the most amazing cuts of A5 wagyu steak. And with it, something that Japanese supermarkets sell alongside their beef - strips of the most amazing, creamy beef fat. So you melt it in the pan, adding just a touch of a neutral vegetable oil, to give the steaks an added touch of intensity and flavour.

Because cooking snout to tail includes the fat too.


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