Back in the beginning of time, I was eating the absolutely fabulous, outrageously expensive Jamón Ibérico de Bellota in a restaurant in Spain, carefully trimming the fat as was my habit at the time.
The waiter came quietly to my side and, in a low voice, instructed me that ‘here in Spain we eat the white, it’s good for you’.
I thought it was interesting that he referred to it as ‘the white’ and not ‘the fat’.
And, while I didn’t eat what I had already trimmed and set aside, I did stop trimming and start enjoying the rest.
I later read an article that enforced his opinion.
It seems that any fat that is liquid at room temperature, like olive or corn oil contain less saturated fats / more unsaturated fats than fat that is harder at room temperature, like butter or palm oil.
The white or fat on the Jamón, while not being liquid, is very, very soft at room temperature. The author (I can’t find the article) maintained that, while saying it’s healthy would be a stretch, one could argue that it was not as unhealthy as, say a cookie made with palm oil.
This leads me to the health benefits of duck fat. Remember I was at the Duck and Fat Fair last week.
Duck fat is liquid at room temperature, albeit a slightly warm room (76F, 25C). It melts at 58F (14C) where as butter melts at 90F (32C).
Greenmarket Recipes has more specifics on the health benefits, as well as details on how to render your own duck fat.
Duck fat, along with goose fat, is significantly higher in the ‘heart healthy’ monounsaturated fats than other animal fats, and also rich in Oleic acid C18.1, which is a specific type of monounsaturated fatty acid, that helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
In simple terms: Olive oil is best, then duck or goose fat, with butter a distant third.
Of course, there is one other benefit of duck fat that the studies don’t address:
It is far and away the best fat to fry potatoes in.
I can buy both duck and goose fat in little tubs at the supermarket.
But it’s ever so much more fun to buy it with the duck.
Duck Confit, that is….
It’s one of the few foods that I buy in a can. But, then, so do most people. One sees big stacks of these big cans in all the supermarkets this time of year.
Inside, underneath all the luscious duck fat are duck legs (the breasts are treated differently – like steak, cooked medium rare on the barbie). You can see how soft the fat is.
What does one use the duck for?
Cassoulet would be the main use.
But I never could follow the rules…..
I like Risotto with Duck Confit and White Beans ….
The next day (and for however long the duck fat lasts) I make what is probably the quintessential French dish: Pommes Sarladaises.
based on a recipe in France, the Beautiful Cookbook
2 medium potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbs duck fat
1 tbs parsley
Slice the potatoes into rounds. Heat the fat in a medium skillet. Add the potatoes and fry, turning over frequently, for 10 minutes. Add garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and turn well to combine. Reduce heat, cover and cook 20 minutes longer, or until potatoes are done, turning often.
IMHO these are simply the best fried potatoes you will ever sink your teeth into.
More facts on fats.
Don’t forget to sign up for Season’s Eatings, the international holiday gift exchange… It’s fun!
(If you want to, that is ;-))
8 thoughts on “Potatoes, Sarlat-style; the good fat”
Katie – sounds sooo good. Wish we could get that in Canada!
Very interesting about the different kinds of fats. Thanks for the treatise. I’ve never tried duck fat but now I must!
We loved these potatoes while we were in France. We certainly miss them now. Duck fat is not something you find in the US. We will be back to the Dordogne someday and once again, eat it every day we are there. YUM
Yes, also this is not something often seen in Australia – we are a long way from the Dordogne !!!
I have been a fan of duck fat fried potatos for a long time now!
I’m always happy that something as simple as duck breasts give off so much fat because I can always have some duck fat in my freezer for potatoes. Really, that’s the only way to cook them.
I wish I could always buy cans of duck confit so easily. I would love to make duck confit risotto. Now I’m going to be investigating a bit more.
We shared a big plate of Sarlat potatoes once while visiting Sarlat. They are one of the most sublime things I’ve ever eaten!
Ina, you’ll have to start with the duck!
Zoomie, I thought it was interesting , too – which is why I looked into it further….
Susan, I love that people are so much more easy with the foods here…
Manningroad, maybe things will change? Hope?
Meredith, isn’t nice to know it’s a good thing?
Rachel, it’s so nice when I can buy something so good – and not expensive
Chez Loulou, Sarlat is only about 2 hours away…. tempted to drive over for a plate
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