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….
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.
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 ;-))