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
- Duck Confit
- Sauteed Foie Gras with Gingered Vanilla Quince
- Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Sage Butter
- Steak and Kidney Pie
- Lamb Fat and Spinach Chapati
- Bacon Spice
- 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.
About the Author
Jennifer McLagan has over 30 years experience in the food business as a chef, caterer, food stylist, recipe writer and cookbook author. The style and content of her books is distinctive as she writes more than just a recipe book. As well as providing delicious recipes, she informs, entertains and educates the reader with history, culture and lore of the subject. She tackles subjects outside the mainstream that fascinate not only cooks, but anyone interested in the place of food in our culture.
Her books Bones (2005), Fat (2008) were widely acclaimed and won James Beard and IACP awards. Fat was the James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year. Odd Bits (2011) was one of the New York Times Notable Cookbooks of 2011 and is an IACP and James Beard nominee.
Jennifer is a regular presenter at the Epicurean Classic in Traverse City, Michigan and has also presented at the highly prestigious Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Fat was featured on CBS Sunday Morning program.
Nancie McDermott is the author of six cookbooks, including Southern Cakes. A food writer and cooking teacher born and raised in North Carolina, she now lives with her family in Chapel Hill.
“Pork, poultry, beef, butter: here is a delicious ode to fat in its many forms and functions. From bacon baklava to beurre blanc, Jennifer McLagan proves that all fat is not created equal, and that eating healthfully should not be an exercise in self-denial.”
–Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurant
“Like cars, we all need lubrication, except ours is ideally taken in the form of pork fat. Fat is where the flavor lies. What a treat this book is–a proper celebration of the good bits.”
–Fergus Henderson, author of The Whole Beast
“I love this book! There are very few cookbooks published today that add something truly new and distinctive to the literature of food and cooking. Jennifer McLagan’s Fat is smart and thoughtful–it ultimately asks us to understand our food better.”
–Michael Ruhlman, coauthor of Charcuterie
“Hurrah! Jennifer McLagan joins the charge to restore honest-to-goodness fat to its rightful place in our kitchens and culture, and she does so intelligently, insightfully, and deliciously. Her new book, Fat, is a must in any serious cook’s library.”
–Molly Stevens, author of All About Braising