Whole milk, marbled cuts of meat, and butter are all back on the menu. Gone are the days of fatty foods being demonized, swept away by a tidal shift in embracing fat again as a healthy part of our diet. Last year we started to embrace fat for health reasons, but also reaped the benefits of a long, delicious culinary tradition of cooking with fat. Especially duck fat.
The health factor plays into it: duck fat contains 6.3 grams of “good” monounsaturated fat. Free from the additives you might get in margarine or butter, duck fat is usually one natural ingredient: pure fat from ducks.
There’s the health aspect, but there’s also the taste: duck fat helps give some dishes extra depth, elevating savory main courses and sides, and developing certain flavors in other surprising places. After a few years of seeing everything from doughnuts to ice cream topped or made with with bacon, the savory-as-sweet trend looked to have ran its course. But duck fat, on the other hand, looks like a less gluttonous option for snackers and those of us looking at the dessert menu after dinner. David Lebovitz got into the act in his recent cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, using duck fat in cookies with dried cherries and a tablespoon of brandy. And Scott Witherow might tell you about one of his creations where, "We use all the ingredients that one would use when making duck confit," making you think you're getting something savory (this specific recipe calls for duck fat, salt, black pepper, thyme and a touch of hot sauce). But no, the founder and owner of Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. is talking about his sweet and salty duck fat caramels.
Hot Doug's in Chicago, which sadly closed its doors last year, was best known for its cased meats. Yet fans of the restaurant would always make sure to tell you to try the duck fat fries. From croutons at popular restaurants across New York City, to the poutine at the Portland, ME. restaurant with owners who love duck fat so much that they named the place after it, the stuff has some diehard fans. And you might not be able to find anybody as passionate about it as the people at D’Artagnan, whose list of duck products includes everything from Hudson Valley foie gras, bacon, sausage, and, of course, fat. From seven ounces to ten pounds, the company sells duck fat for you to take home and do everything from smear it on your morning toast, to cooking up plates of oven-roasted veggie fries or a tray of duck fat kale chips with these easy recipes.
D’Artagnan’s Oven-Roasted Veggie Fries
Assorted root veggies, such as parsnips, turnips, carrots, and beets; scrubbed, peeled and cut into ¼ inch sticks
Duck fat, softened
Finley chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, toss veggie sticks with a few generous drizzles of with a drizzle of duck fat. Make sure each stick is evenly shiny with fat. Season with salt.
- Spread evenly, in a single layer, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, flipping halfway through baking time. Fries should take about 15-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, taste for seasoning and season with salt if needed. Sprinkle with parsley (is using), and serve immediately.
D’Artagnan’s Duck Fat Kale Chips
1 bunch kale, washed and dried
2 tablespoons duck fat, softened
Fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove tough kale ribs and discard. Tear kale leaves into chip sized pieces and place into a large bowl.
- Drizzle with duck fat, toss to evenly coat.
- Arrange kale in a single layer on a ribbed sheet pan, being careful not to crowd or overlap.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and piment d'Espelette to taste. Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 12 minutes, or until chips are crisp and gently browned around the edges, turning the sheet pan once. Remove kale chips to a bowl, serve immediately.