The French call it graisse de canard, to some it’s just schmaltz, and I prefer to think of it as liquid gold. Introducing for the very first time to the fatscheme kitchen, Duck Fat. This rendered animal fat had been my first major revelation in culinary school. With the consistency of ghee, the color of morning sunshine, and the taste of comfort, it’s no wonder that chefs have been secretly hoarding this stuff. And why not, since it’s a naturally produced, locally sourced, and minimally if not barely processed byproduct of duck trimmings. Its semi-solid state at room temperature makes it a great non-dairy alternative for baking (did someone say biscuits?). Its high smoking point of approximately 375°F makes it more ideal than butter for frying or roasting, especially since it can be re-used. And trust me, potatoes have never been the same since these two met.
But beyond the cooking benefits, what has been mind blowing are the so-called health benefits. Yes, I just said health benefits and duck fat. With only half of the amount of saturated fat that butter and many vegetable oils have, duck fat consists of 67% monounsaturated “good” fat. Similar to olive oil, it is rich with the highly sought after oleic and linoleic acids which can actually help lower levels of cholesterol. Don’t believe me? Just ask our friends in the South France region of Gascony, who have been cooking solely with this luscious lubricant for centuries. If the French paradox is not enough to convince you, studies have indicated a correlation between the rise of heart disease in American in the 1920’s through the 1940’s to the decline in the consumption of animal fat and an increase in the use of hydrogenated processed vegetable oils, yeah I’m looking at you Margarine. Now there’s no need pull a Durden at your local butcher for buckets of fat, but hopefully you’ll give this stuff a try. Next time you’re breaking down lil Daffy, save the fat trimmings and render them down. Worried about having your house smelling like Ms. Kay’s kitchen? No problem, you find tubs of duck fat at your local butcher, most grocery stores, and even from our good friends at William and Sonoma. Once you get your hands on this the possibilities are endless. Imagine jars of confit replacing jam in holiday gift bags, duck fat pancakes accompanying Saturday morning cartoons, a duck fat pie crust on your Christmas quiche, or tossing blanched cruciferous vegetables in a fatty vinaigrette. So fear not of this fowl’s fat, unless of course you are butter.