Before you shy away from duck fat, here are a couple of things you ought to know. Duck fat is the fat that is rendered from duck. While duck fat is most commonly associated with French cuisine, it has become a staple in professional kitchens and high-end restaurants around the world.
Not only does duck fat provide unparalleled flavor to just about any dish, from the original French fry to green vegetables and steaks, it also provides a variety of health benefits. And thanks to more awareness among home cooks, duck fat’s popularity has surged; in part, because it has a single, minimally processed ingredient: fat taken from ducks. It’s also readily available in local butcheries, grocery stores and online.
With a silky mouthfeel, subtle flavor, and a high smoke point, duck fat is perfect for high-heat cooking. It makes everything taste better, from poultry to potatoes, and meat to fresh vegetables. You can use duck fat from a solid, soft or liquid state, and unlike other lipids, it can be reused, which all the more, makes it an ideal choice ingredient for cooking almost anything!
Not all fats are bad
Duck fat contains 51% monounsaturated fat, 36% saturated fat and 14% polyunsaturated fat. The high proportion of monounsaturated and saturated fats makes it stable during cooking. Not only does this preserve the flavor of the fat, it also reduces the risk of lipid oxidation products. These harmful compounds can form when some fats are exposed to high heat.
While most cooking fats and oils are treated with chemicals, bleached, deodorized and refined, duck fat is simply rendered, or gently “melted” away from the flesh, creating healthy cooking fat in its purest form.
Cookery magic with duck fat
Duck fat when used alone or in combination with other high smoke point oils, such as safflower or peanut oil, makes for fabulous deep-frying. It adds that extra oomph to fried chicken, croquettes, beignets, breaded calamari, potato chips and more.
Duck confit: The French word confit literally means to preserve. It is essentially a technique that is traditionally used for preserving duck, pork and goose. For this popular dish, the gently cured duck legs are bathed in their own fat and slow-cooked to perfection.
Roasted duck fat potatoes: Potatoes (russets) roasted in duck fat have an incredibly thick, golden-brown crust that’s so crunchy to the point that you will not be able to replicate using oil. Take it a step further and substitute with yam or taro. All you need to do is to gently pan fry these starchy vegetables in duck fat until golden brown.
Golden brown, roasted mushrooms: Many of us have enjoyed delicious, golden brown sautéed mushrooms in restaurants, right? They regularly show up alongside steaks and salads. How about trying something different? Toss some oyster mushrooms with melted duck fat and Worcestershire sauce, and roast at 190°C (374°F) for 20 minutes. Keep tossing occasionally to make sure they cook evenly. Serve as an accompaniment with your mains and you’re bound to steal the show.
Flavor your veggies: Whether it’s roasting your favorite veggie or simply sautéing onions, shallots and garlic, you can count on duck fat to bring out the richest flavors of each food. Duck fat has the ability to enrich whatever is cooking in it.
Sear meats and seafood: For a richer flavor and a delectable golden brown color, sear your meats (steaks or chops) or seafood in a dollop of duck fat. The fat helps to build that perfect crust on the outside and enhances the natural steak flavor. It’s also the perfect fat for searing Foie gras.
The question is what can you not do with duck fat? While butter and oil may be go-to options for whipping up your favorite dishes, cooking with duck fat is an easy way to imbue any dish with an extra bit of super savory flavor. And, it delivers an attractive golden hue that otherwise may be difficult to achieve.
Tip: If properly stored in a sealed container in the cold part of the fridge, duck fat should keep for six months. If you want to store it longer than six months, place it in the freezer. When frozen, duck fat can stay in tip-top condition for up to a year.