Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes

Jennifer McLagan

Published by Ten Speed Press, 2008
ISBN 10: 1580089356 / ISBN 13: 9781580089357
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Synopsis:

A rich and unapologetic celebration of this luscious food.

For all of history, minus the last thirty years, fat has been at the center of human diets and cultures. When scientists theorized a link between saturated fat and heart disease, industry, media, and government joined forces to label fat a greasy killer, best avoided. But according to Jennifer McLagan, not only is our fat phobia overwrought, it also hasn’t benefited us in any way. Instead it has driven us into the arms of trans fats and refined carbohydrates, and fostered punitive, dreary attitudes toward food–that wellspring of life and pleasure.

In Fat, McLagan sets out with equal parts passion, scholarship, and appetite to win us back to a healthy relationship with animal fats. She starts by defusing fat’s bad rap, both reminding us of what we already know–that fat is fundamental to the flavor of our food–and enlightening us with the many ways fat (yes, even animal fat) is indispensable to our health.

Mostly, though, Fat is about pleasures–the satisfactions of handling good ingredients skillfully, learning the cultural associations of these primal foodstuffs, recollecting and creating personal memories of beloved dishes, and gratifying the palate and the soul with fat’s irreplaceable savor. Fat lavishes the reader with more than 100 recipes from simple to intricate, classic to contemporary, including:

· Butter-Poached Scallops
· Homemade Butter
· Carnitas
· Duck Confit
· Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Sage Butter
· Steak and Kidney Pie
· Salted Butter Tart
 
Observing that though we now know everything about olive oil, we may not know what to do with lard or bone marrow, McLagan offers extensive guidance on sourcing, rendering, flavoring, using, and storing animal fats, whether butter or bacon, schmaltz or suet. Stories, lore, quotations, and tips touching on fat’s place in the kitchen and in the larger culture round out this rich and unapologetic celebration of food at its very best.  

Review: Jennifer McLagan's Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

Jennifer McLagan is a chef, food stylist, and writer who has worked in London and Paris as well as her native Australia. Her book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, won the Best Single Subject Cookbook award, as well as Cookbook of the Year, at the 2009 James Beard Awards. Her first book, Bones, was widely acclaimed, winning the James Beard Award for single-subject food writing. She is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking and Food & Drink. She has lived in Toronto for more than 27 years with her sculptor husband, Haralds Gaikis, with whom she escapes to Paris as often as possible. On both sides of the Atlantic, Jennifer maintains friendly relations with her butchers, who put aside their best fat and bones for her.

(Photo © Rob Fiocca)


Pumpkin and Bacon Soup
(Makes 3 quarts/3 l)

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound/225 g side (slab) bacon
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 large sprig sage
  • hubbard squash or other firm, dry pumpkin or winter squash (about 3-1/3 pounds/1.5 kg)
  • 8 cups/2 l water
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Remove the rind and any hard, dry skin from the bacon. Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch/6-mm dice.

Place a large saucepan over low heat, add the bacon pieces, and cook gently so they render their fat. When most of their fat is rendered, add the onion, celery, and sage, stirring to coat with the fat. Cook until the vegetables soften slightly, about 7 minutes.

Cut the squash into quarters and remove the seeds. Peel the squash and coarsely chop into smaller, even-sized pieces. Set aside.

Pour 1 cup/250 ml of the water into the pan with the vegetables, increase the heat to high and, using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. Add the remaining 7 cups/1.75 l water, the squash pieces, 1 tablespoon of salt, and some pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until the squash is very soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the sage and let the soup cool slightly.

Purée the soup, in batches, in a blender and pour into a clean saucepan. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and reheat the soup to serve.

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Title: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood ...
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: 2008
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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