on 21 November 2012
Should one want to eat a healthy diet it seems to me that it's currently particularly difficult to know exactly where to start. Low carb? Low fat? High protein? Fasting days? Throwing her hat into the ring is Jennifer McLagan, with this book about - as the title suggests - the much maligned food type of fat.
I have to admit that I like fat. Good butter dripping from freshly baked bread or hot crumpet. The grassy, peppery notes of really good extra virgin olive oil. The thin, glistening, translucent wafers of Spanish or Italian style air dried hams, or even for that matter the criss-crossed fat on my mother's roast ham. This book is proposing that far from being an evil that's best avoided, a suitable amount of fat in our diet can actually be a good thing. The way that fat can flavour a dish means that we can be satisfied with eating less, with commensurate benefits for our waistlines.
The recipes are organised by type of fat: butter, pork fat, poultry fat, and beef and lamb fats. Each chapter starts with an extensive discussion of the particular fat; of the recipes, I do like the look of the butter chicken, salted butter tart, Cheong Liew's braised pork belly, Boston-style baked beans, duck rillettes (I LOVE rillettes!), duck confit, chicken liver spread, cassoulet, and marmalade pudding. What does spring out is just how traditional many of the recipes are, show how recent the fear of fat is, and how important fat used to be in our diets, and whilst it's true that many fewer of us do the kinds of physical work that used to be the norm, isn't a smaller portion of a really tasty dish a much more attractive idea than a large plate of dry tastelessness?
For those who wish to read further, there is a bibliography, but I think that I'm just going to stick with my plan to make rillettes. Did I mention I love rillettes?