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Valentine's Day Present

Butter, lard, beef dripping and ghee - because I love him and he loves me! 

This was my Valentine's Day gift to my significant other this year - Jennifer McLagan's new book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes.

Naughtily I used it in my column this week too, because I had to share with my readers that there is at least one book on the market that reminds us that fat is “critical to the flavour of our food: without it, meat has no real taste.

One of the first questions I asked the author was how scary it was to release a book about the dreaded 'f' word in today's market? Jennifer replied: “I didn’t think a book on FAT was that crazy and I was never scared by the idea. I knew it would be controversial but I didn’t realise that it would meet with such resistance especially in the world of New York publishing. The book took a long time to sell but finally the Canadian publisher then the US publisher (in California) came on board and FAT will be published in the UK next month. Many people are now saying what a timely idea – if only they had said that three years ago.

Jennifer goes a step further and suggests that if you eat “the right fats, and you’ll probably lose weight.” She's saying this because fat is satisfying, and digests slowly, so you’re less likely to snack between meals.

The recipes seem great, though he's yet to try one. He's very excited by the Braised Oxtail, which I duly hunted and gathered for him today at Craig Cook's Prime Quality Meats .

I can hardly wait for the results... the chapter headings should give you an idea of what's to come: ‘butter: worth it’; ‘pork fat: the king’; ‘poultry fat: versatile and good for you’; ‘beef and lamb fat: overlooked but tasty’. Apart from all the recipes, there are lots of sidebars, quotes and asides that help explain the history and culture surrounding our favourite fats.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes
Jennifer, McLagan
RRP: $44.95
Simon and Schuster


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
one of my exes was a food techie and he said fat is the super-flavoursome ingredient and essential for melt in the mouth taste.
I always cook with the meat's fat but usually blot off excess fat.

Feb. 16th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
I think its interesting that fatty meat was prized, especially if you were poor a few hundred years ago. Hell my stepmother used to save the roast dripping in the fridge up until a few years ago.

Now Australia is fatter than ever and fatty meat is cheap, but lean meat is expensive.

Feb. 16th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
But I also would not be seen buying this book, it will be mail order
Feb. 16th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
With the exception of wagyu. But I guess this is about demand dictating pricing - they charge what people are willing to pay.
Feb. 16th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good one...and has got me craving fatty lamb cutles...*drooling*
Feb. 16th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
One of the things I remember from childhood is lamb cutlets in the vertical grill, with crispy fat down the back of the bone. Haven't had them done like that since.
Feb. 16th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
Oh! I saw one of those vertical grills on eBay for $80 (I was thinking you're having a laugh) but my nan used one of those a lot. She also had a pot of dripping she kept in the fridge.

Shayne's grandfather used to eat dripping sandwiches and he regrets never being allowed to have one.
Feb. 16th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen a vertical grill since I was a kid in my Mother's kitchen, and back the I wasn't keen on the texture of fat (I hated chicken thighs, and mostly still do for that pocket of fat your teeth can slip into) but I loved those lamb chops with their crispy fat, and molten fat centre.

I have never heard of a dripping sandwich before.

Some of the stuff she was saying I think you'd find quite interesting. Apparently all the 'bad' fats (trans fats) are man-made not natural!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 16th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
It sounds like the author grew up similarly - in the introduction she talks about the way the fridge always had three types of fat (butter, dripping and lard) when she was growing up.

I actually think it takes more skill to work with a cheaper cut, as you have to cook it longer and slower to make sure it stays tender.

Roast pork is the hardest of the roasts I think, but so long as you have a decent oven that can do high temperatures, it's not impossible.
Feb. 16th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
I'd grown up in a household where real butter was never used, and everything was low-fat and "diet" labelled. Eggs, butter, cream - these things were never used in cooking.

When I first bought Delia's "How to Cook" and discovered the joys of using butter in scrambled eggs, and cream in mash potato...

Ahh my tastebuds - and my wasitline. Heh.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 16th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
Nothing beats a baguette with awesome butter.
Feb. 16th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
I lie. A baguette with Fromager d'Affinois.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )