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Fat

An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes

By , (Photographer)

Hardcover published by Ten Speed Press (Ten Speed Press)

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About This Book
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
• Sautéed Foie Gras with Gingered Vanilla Quince
• Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Sage Butter
• Steak and Kidney Pie
• Lamb Fat and Spinach Chapati
• Bacon Spice
• Cookies
• 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.
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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
• Sautéed Foie Gras with Gingered Vanilla Quince
• Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Sage Butter
• Steak and Kidney Pie
• Lamb Fat and Spinach Chapati
• Bacon Spice
• Cookies
• 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.
Product Details
Hardcover (240 pages)
Published: September 1, 2008
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Imprint: Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 9781580089357
Other books byJennifer McLagan
  • Bones

    Bones
    Recipes, History, and Lore
    Top food stylist and food writer Jennifer McLagan has a bone to pick: too often, people opt for boneless chicken breasts, fish fillets, and cutlets, when good cooks know that anything cooked on the bone has more flavor -- from chicken or spareribs to a rib roast or a whole fish. In Bones, Jennifer offers a collection of recipes for cooking beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, and game on their bones. Chicken, steak, and fish all taste better when cooked on the bone, but we've sacrificed flavor for speed and convenience, forgetting how bones can enhance the taste, texture, and presentation of good food -- think of rack of lamb, T-bone steak, chicken noodle soup, and baked ham. In her simple, bare-bones style, Jennifer teaches home cooks the secrets to cooking with bones. Each chapter of Bones includes stocks, soups, ribs, legs, and extremities (except for whole fish -- they don't have any). Many of the recipes are simple, with the inherent flavors of the bones doing most of the work. There are traditional, elegant dishes, such as Roasted Marrow Bones with Parsley Salad, Olive-Crusted Lamb Racks, and Crown Roast of Pork, as well as new takes on homestyle favorites, such as Maple Tomato Glazed Ribs, Coconut Chicken Curry, and Halibut Steaks with Orange Cream Sauce. Stunning, full-color photographs of dishes like Rabbit in Saffron Sauce with Spring Vegetables; Grilled Quail with Sage Butter; and Duck Legs with Cumin, Turnips, and Green Olives are sure to inspire. In addition to the recipes, Bones includes a wealth of information on a wide range of bone-related topics, including the differences among cuts of meat, as well as the history and lore of bones.

    Odd Bits

    Odd Bits
    How to Cook the Rest of the Animal
    In a world of costly prime cuts—stately crown roasts, plump pork chops, and regal racks of lamb—it’s easy to forget about (and steer clear of) the more economical, but less lovable parts of the beast—bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and, oh yes, testicles. Historically, these so-called odd bits have had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. In fact, many are considered delicacies and routinely appear in regional specialties. So why do we eschew and waste valuable protein? When have our sensibilities become so squeamish? In short—when did we decide offal had become awful?    Jennifer McLagan, award-winning author of Bones and Fat, is on a crusade to bring the nose-to-tail style of cooking and eating out of the closet and back onto to our dining tables. Her mission: restoring our respect for the whole animal, developing a taste for its lesser known parts, and learning how to approach them in the kitchen as confidently as we would a steak or a burger. Serious food lovers will delight in the sheer variety of the dishes that await, ranging from simple to challenging:   •  Headcheese for the Unconvinced •  Veal Cheeks with Swiss Chard and Olives •  Cheese and Just a Little Brain Fritters •  Lamb Neck with Quince and Turnip •  Brisket Braised with Caramelized Onions and Chile •  Sweetbreads with Morels and Fresh Fava Beans •  Moroccan-Style Braised Heart •  Minted Tripe and Pea Salad •  Wild Boar Shanks with Cranberries and Chocolate •  Bone Marrow and Mushroom Custard   Much more than a cookbook, Odd Bits delves into the rich geographical, historical, and religious roles of these unusual meats. McLagan’s enthusiasm for her subject is contagious, and with her insight and humor will convert even non-believers to the pleasure of odd bits.

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