In Praise of Duck Fat

Picture of potatoes roasted in duck fat with rosemary sprigs[Jump right to the recipe: Potatoes Sautéed in Duck Fat with Rosemary]

At a recent Wine and Food of Burgundy cooking class at Central Market, I was reminded by Chef Robert Jenkins of just how much I really love duck fat. And while I have already started a recap post of that class, complete with recipes for both rabbit and beef bourguignon, I wanted to take the time to give duck fat its due.

What’s so special about duck fat? Well, besides the fact that it lends one of the most rich and luxurious tastes you’ll ever come across to any dish, it’s the healthiest animal fat you can consume. Don’t believe me? See for yourself how it ranks compared to other animal fats as well as olive oil and canola oil.

Fat
(1 Tbsp)
Monounsaturated Fat
(Good Fat)
Polyunsaturated Fat
(Good Fat)
Saturated Fat
(Bad Fat)
Trans Fat
(Really Bad Fat)
Olive Oil 10 grams 1.2 grams 1.8 grams 0 grams
Canola Oil 8.2 grams 4.1 grams .9 grams 0 grams
Duck Fat 6.3 grams 1.6 grams 4.2 grams 0 grams
Lard 5.8 grams 1.4 grams 5 grams 0 grams
Butter 3.3 grams 0.5 grams 7.2 grams 0 grams

*Adapted from Fats: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Nutrition Data

The data in this table reaffirms what we all pretty much know: olive oil and many plan based oils like canola oil are our best healthy oil options. However, for those times when only animal fat will do, duck is the best followed closely by lard (surprised?) and then butter. The French have been consuming duck fat as a regular element in their diets for years and seem to be much healthier as a population than Americans – a phenomenon known as the French paradox. A whole nation of food-lovers can’t be wrong now, can they?

Okay, so you’re sold on duck fat as an occasional addition to your diet, how exactly do you acquire it? You have a couple of different options:

  • Buy it already rendered. I get my duck fat from the Kocurek family at the Austin Farmer’s Market. They sell it in small containers and because it keeps for a really long time, my $5 or so worth of fat won’t go bad before I can use it. Chat with you local butcher or charcuterie maker to see if they have rendered fat they will sell you.
  • Render it yourself. If you are planning to cook duck any time soon, don’t toss the fat – keep it. The Bitten Word has a great overview of how to render duck fat. In a nutshell, you render duck fat just like you render bacon fat: cut the skin into pieces and cook it in a pan.

Also, duck fat is a reusable resource. If you have fat left over from a cooking application, strain it through cheesecloth to remove all of the brown bits and return it to the fridge for another cooking adventure.

I like to use duck fat in simple preparations so that its flavor really comes through. The potatoes recipe in this post is great example of that. Some other great uses for duck fat include:

What’s your favorite way to use duck fat? Tell me more in the comments.

Recipe: Potatoes Sautéed in Duck Fat with Rosemary

Details

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb. small new potatoes
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. rendered duck fat
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut each potato in half and then cut each half into quarters, to create 8 pieces from each potato.
  2. Place the potato pieces in a medium sauce pace with enough water to just cover the potatoes. Add salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium low.
  3. Simmer the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes or until fork-tender.
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return to the pan. Let sit off of the heat for 2-3 minutes so the potatoes can dry.
  5. While the potatoes dry, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the duck fat and swirl in the pan until it melts and just begins to bubble.
  6. Add the potatoes to the pan and toss to coat evenly with the hot duck fat. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the potatoes evenly with the seasonings.
  7. Sauté for 3-5 minutes or until the potatoes start to crisp on the edges. Be sure to keep the potatoes moving in the pan.
  8. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.

Recipe for Success

  • You can use any color waxy potato for this recipe that you’d like. I typically use “C” size red potatoes, but baby Yukon golds, fingerlings, or even purple potatoes will work. Avoid using baking potatoes like russets because they will fall apart when you sauté them in the duck fat.
  • If you don’t have access to rendered duck fat, you can substitute olive oil although the taste won’t be quite as amazing. Bacon fat works well too, although it’s not as healthy for you as duck fat or olive oil.
  • Substitute any fresh herb you have on hand for the rosemary such as thyme or sage. Any strong savory herb will stand up nicely to the duck fat.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for singing the praises of duck fat and sharing this recipe. Maple Leaf Farms has step-by-step instructions on how to score and render the duck fat from duck breasts: http://mlf-duckstore.com/lib/sitefiles/File/Rendering-DB-Sheet.pdf

  2. I adore you and your statistics researching soul. Only you could give me guilt-free duck fat!

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