Ode to Fat

Surely we’re not the first to tell you that fat is a vehicle for flavor, hence the reason cooking flavorful, low-fat food is such a challenge. Here in the test kitchen, our flavor vehicles of choice are those you can access easily and consistently: butter, olive, and canola oil. But when we start playing around with dishes that call for the less common fats, we don’t shy away, because the right fat for the right preparation—schmaltz for matzo balls being a prime example—is the right way to make it just like grandma.

This week, we’re elbow deep in ethnic recipes that require those other fats: chopped liver, tamales, braised lamb shanks, etc. Needless to say, flavor’s coming out of our ears at this point. So far we’ve played around with seven different fats, having already used olive oil, canola oil, unsalted butter, duck fat, lard, schmaltz, and lamb fat. But we’ll make it to number eight by week’s end, as we still have to zero in on some shortening. Glad to see we’re not alone in our love for the fatty stuff.

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