Restaurants and chefs tend to treat duck fat like liquid gold. During my time at the French Culinary Institute, chefs and students alike would hoard quart containers of the stuff, smuggling it home to use in all manner of preparations. Everyone had a love affair with duck fat. Classically used for duck confit; a hallmark of French cooking where duck legs are cured in a salt and herb mixture overnight before slowly cooking in a bath of duck fat until meltingly, falling off the bone tender, duck fat actually fits well into more recipes and dishes then you’d imagine.
Before you scoff off this form of fat for its purported diet pitfalls, consider this: duck fat has less saturated fat than butter, and can actually lower your cholesterol with its high levels of healthy mono-unsaturated fat. It’s the healthiest animal fat you can eat, not that you’ll need any persuasion once you taste its effect on food. It makes everything it touches more golden, crispy, tender, and quite simply more delicious. It adds a luxurious, rich flavor profile to any dish you use it in, lending depth of flavor to even the simplest recipes.
How does one procure duck fat? You have several options. Aside from smuggling it out of the nearest culinary school, you can head to your local William Sonoma and pick up a jar for roughly fifteen dollars. Browse around online and you can find specialty purveyors who can ship it to you. You can also check out your local famers market, or inquire with your local restaurant or butcher shop and see if they will sell you some.
Or, you can take the more involved but doubly rewarding method of rendering the duck fat yourself. Just buy a duck, either whole or just the legs or breasts, score the fat in a crosshatch pattern, and render the fat slowly over low heat. Once all the fat has rendered, strain it, pour it into a jar, let it harden, then skim off any impurities. It will now keep in the fridge for months, as you enjoy it spoonful by spoonful in your cooking.
To learn how to render duck fat yourself, and for delicious duck fat recipes, view the full article at Devil Gourmet.
Photo Credit: William Sonoma.