Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes

by Jennifer McLagan
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Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

A rich and unapologetic celebration of this luscious food.

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
• Carnitas
• Duck Confit
• Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Sage Butter
• Steak and Kidney Pie
• 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.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780771055775
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date: 09/16/2008
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 10.28(h) x 0.86(d)
Age Range: 3 Months

About the Author

JENNIFER McLAGAN is a chef and sought-after food stylist and writer who has worked in London and Paris as well as her native Australia. Her first book, Bones (2005), was widely acclaimed, winning the James Beard award for single subject food writing. She is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking and Food & Drink. She has lived in Toronto for more than twenty-seven years with her sculptor husband, Haralds Gaikis, with whom she escapes to Paris as often as possible. On both sides of the Atlantic, Jennifer maintains friendly relations with her butchers, who put aside their best fat and bones for her.

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Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
OrchidMR More than 1 year ago
After browsing though Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, I found myself making a giblet recipe that required lard to cover these little nibbles: it became like a lard dip. This book surely inspires such urges, and reminded me of the best of grandma, the no-nonsense exuberantly fat-loving doyenne of recipes, who turned the cheek in the face of urgent anti-fat hand-wringing. And she is right, and I was wrong for many years: while fat got an unfair bad rap over the past few decades from the low-fat diet apologists, the fact is fat is an important part of living as healthy a lifestyle as you can. And I noticed this too: I am not hungry or craving food, or eating lots of food. McLagan’s book stands out: a love letter to all the traditional fats that abound on God's world. A joyful romp through trivia, history (you can't miss the section where the ghastly margarine came from!), lore, and hands-on recipes. A compendium of knowledge largely lost to our generation, and a celebration of dishes both modern and historic. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between leaf lard and lardo? Do you know which fat is just the best for pastry and how to render it? Why does butter feel so luscious in your mouth? It’s all in there with her recipes and captivating photographs. Clearly, her book is the cry for all we yearn for. In her world, carbs and proteins are the suitors to fat, the leading lady. They celebrate her beauty and allure, but aren’t meant to stand alone. Recipes have many varieties of spiced or flavored butters, puff pastry, butter sauces, buttered vegetables, a drooly-looking buttered chicken recipe from India, pork cracklings, fat-laden terrine, pork belly, rosemary-flavored pork fat, french fries done in lard, plenty of bacon-based recipes, sausage, foie gras, several marrow recipes, and lots of ideas for using duck, chicken, and goose fat.
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