Fat – A Misunderstood IngredientPosted by Alexa Clark on Friday, February 20th, 2009
Tags for this Article: Coupe Space, fat, foie-gras, ingredient, Jennifer McLagan, tasting club
Fat, it’s a misunderstood and much-maligned part of a cook’s arsenal. Without it pastry would be paste, roasted potatoes might as well be boiled, even chicken soup wouldn’t have its famed magical properties. And croissant? Well, croissant simply wouldn’t be. It’s not possible to create those flaky, tender, miracles of goodness without butter and butter is fat. And fat is good.
I was lucky enough to snag a couple of tickets to a Fat Tasting lead by Jennifer McLagan, author of Bones and the newly released Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes in which she discusses the benefits of culinary fats, dispels some of the myths and includes some tasty treats. The tasting was the first of the 2009 Tasting Club events at Coupe Space.
Accompanied by Stephen Alexander (Cumbrae’s), and Martin Malivoire (Malivoire Wine Company), Jennifer led us though a tasting of fats using Cumbrae’s naturally-raised meats, Jennifer’s recipes from Foie Gras Butter to Crackling Brittle all accompanied by a selection of Martin Malivoire’s certified-organic wines (Malivoire Wine Company).
The first plate was a selection of butters, fat and charcuterie. This was the most interesting plate of the evening as we tasted fat, on its own in multiple forms as if it were cheese. The plate included a farmhouse butter from Forfar Dairy in the Ottawa Valley; an Échiré butter from the Loire Valley in France; a pork fat infused with rosemary and a Foie Gras Butter. The butters were fragrant and delicate, vastly different than the foil-wrapped blocks which are readily available.
The second plate of the evening had a slow-roasted pork belly with rosemary and braised fennel, alongside a brisket braised in red wine.
Finally a dessert plate with a tender suet scone and a brittle with pork crackling. I’m not a huge fan of brittle but it did carry that salty sweetness to a new level. The suet biscuit was more a scone than a traditional biscuit, tender and sweet, served with apricot preserve and pear. [Crackling Brittle Recipe]
Of all the flavours and textures of the evening, the Foie Gras Butter was, by far, the most delightful and surprising thing I tasted. Complex, flavourful but not overpowering. It seems perfectly reasonable but I’d never thought of using foie ends to whip up this amazingly rich and flavourful spread. [Foie Gras Butter Recipe].
If this tasting was any indication of what is inside the book, I’m looking forward to spending some long hours reading, rendering and reproducing the recipes Jennifer has created in Fat.