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Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes [Hardcover]

Jennifer McLagan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 16 2008
An appealing exploration of fat in cooking — a component of food that’s newly fashionable — with recipes and culinary history.

Duck fat. Caul fat. Leaf lard. Bacon. Ghee. Suet. Schmaltz. Cracklings. Jennifer McLagan knows and loves culinary fat and you’ll remember that you do too once you get a taste of her lusty, food-positive writing and sophisticated comfort-food recipes. Dive into more than 100 sweet and savory recipes using butter, pork fat, poultry fat, and beef and lamb fats, including Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Fennel and Rosemary, Risotto Milanese, Duck Rillettes, Bone Marrow Crostini, and Choux Paste Beignets. Scores of sidebars on the cultural, historical, and scientific facets of culinary fats as well as thirty-six styled food photos make for a plump, juicy, satisfying package for food lovers

Frequently Bought Together

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes + Odd Bits + Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore
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  • Odd Bits CDN$ 25.07
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Persuasively arguing that the never-ending quest for "health" has gone too far, McLagan's elegant and informed look at this most maligned ingredient is appropriately unctuous. A crucial part of our diets, fat not only provides health benefits but pure pleasure: few ingredients can carry flavor the way fat does. Breaking the topic down into categories (butter, pork, poultry, beef-and-lamb), McLagan carefully chooses recipes that showcase the role of fat in imparting and carrying flavor. Versatile butter adds richness to pastry dough, a sweet nuttiness to Brown Butter Ice Cream, thickens classic sauces and can be used to gently poach scallops. A classic BLT gets a jolt of flavor from bacon-fat mayonnaise, and sliced Yukon Gold potatoes cooked in duck fat are practically ambrosial. While there's a fair number of indulgent dishes (3-inch bone-in ribeyes served with a red wine sauce and roasted bone marrow, a pork-fat laden twist on peanut brittle), McLagan emphasizes flavor and application over decadence. Digressions like those on the history of Crisco, fat as an art medium and a thoughtful look at foie gras are welcome and enlightening. Her mixture of science, cultural anthropology and culinary imagination are intoxicating, making this a crucial work on the topic.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“The appeal of Fat is the superb research McLagan has done on the area of fat. She explodes myths and talks history, facts and fiction with passion. Her thesis is that fat gives irreplaceable flavour to food and anyone who cuts fat from their diet loses taste and pleasure. But the book is more than that. It gives you the building blocks to understand the place of fat in our diet. It tells of cultural associations with fat and gives lots of tips. I cannot say that I always agree with her, but I hugely enjoyed reading the book, and controversy is always a flavour-enhancer.”
— Lucy Waverman, Globe and Mail

“Persuasively arguing that the never-ending quest for “health” has gone too far, McLagan’s elegant and informed look at this most maligned ingredient is appropriately unctuous…..Digressions like those on the history of Crisco, fat as an art medium and a thoughtful look at foie gras are welcome and enlightening. Her mixture of science, cultural anthropology and culinary imagination are intoxicating, making this a crucial work on the topic.”— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Jennifer McLagan’s substantial and by no means unserious Fat…furnishes information on rendering, deep and shallow frying, grating suet, preparing marrow and a host of similar topics, filling the book’s margins with fat-related anecdotes and lore. None of which would matter if her recipes weren’t brilliant. Most of them aren’t for neophytes, but they reward the effort.”
— Craig Seligman, New York Times Book Review

“There is this new book called, quite simply, Fat. How irresistible is that? Written by Jennifer McLagan and subtitled “an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient,” it has more appeal than most, and deliciously follows the current (formerly politically incorrect) trend of revisiting some of those treasured ingredients that have fallen upon hard times.”
— Mark Bittman, New York Times

“Best of all are the recipes, more than 100 in all, for dishes that each sound more scrumptious from the last, including puff pastry, duck confit, sautéed foie gras, rillettes, shortbread, butter chicken, cassoulet and traditional plum pudding made with grated suet that McLagan champions for its versatility and texture-enhancing properties.”
— Lesley Chesterman, The Gazette (Montreal)

“Even in the niche-happy land of cookbook publishing, Jennifer McLagan’s latest title stands out. Fat collects dozens of gourmet recipes that span a variety of cuisines and food types, but they all share a judicious use of, well, fat. The book should be celebrated for providing an education as essential to cooking as its subject.”
— Shaun Smith, Quill & Quire

“A rollicking journey through the kingdom of unrepentant, glorious, and filthy rich fat. McLagan has a superb sense of balance on the plate….”
— T. Susan Chang, Boston Globe

“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 a smart, thoughtful book that ultimately asks us to understand our food better.”
— Michael Ruhlman

“McLagan's book is a smart, sensual celebration of the flavorful animal fats prized by chefs and shunned by a generation of lipo-phobes. Her French Fries in Lard may change your life forever.”— People Magazine

“An unapologetic celebration of its title ingredient and a compelling argument that explains not only why fat is a fundamental flavor but also fundamental to our health.”

“Mouth-watering is the only way to describe the recipes…The combination of traditional dishes from many countries with new creations – brown butter ice cream is just one – is likely to get anyone scurrying into the kitchen. Ms. McLagan's advocacy of animal fat as a vital ingredient that should not be a bogeyman has considerable merit.”
— Claire Hopley, Washington Post

“If obsessing over fat and calories is beginning to fall out of fashion, Jennifer McLagan is here to show the way. Along with wide ranging recipes, McLagan provides treatises on the history, the health benefits, and the uses of each type of fat. And along the way are engaging sidebars on fat-related cultural moments, literary epigrams and folk sayings.”

“Love crispy bacon, artisanal butters, flaky pastries? Be it butter or lard, fat is used by just about every culture to enhance the taste of food. Jennifer McLagan includes a variety of sweet and savory recipes that make the most of the frequently maligned ingredient.”
Bon Appetit Magazine

“The top of our holiday reading list is an extraordinary treatise on a much-maligned ingredient. Fat is the title and the sole topic of Jennifer McLagan's wide-ranging book…. It's one of those rare cookbooks that adds up to the culinary equivalent of a bodice ripper, packed with a ton of interesting social history and anecdotes that you'll want to read before jumping into the recipes.”
Vancouver Courier

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fat and sassy March 12 2009
I bought this book for my sister, who is an amazing cook! But I couldn't resist reading a good portion of it myself. Not only is it well written, what it says about the nemesis that is fat goes a long way toward changing how we view this *natural* substance. But then it's always worthwhile to look on the other side of an issue. And in this book, the author did just that.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Novice May 8 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My wife likes cooking (so do I to a lesser degree) and I bought this book for her, although I read it as well. The book is well laid out and both the font and content make it for an easy read. It is however, not for a novice and in reality it is for someone who has already done a lot of cooking and wants to expand their range. In many ways it is like going to a cooking school, except you have to put in a bit more work since there is no one to show you. If you like entertaining guests and they enjoy food, this is an excellent book and it gives you a range of ideas (and recipes) that will impress visitors to your house. If you are expecting recipes that take 10 minutes and are meant to feed three kids at lunch, this is not the book for you. If however, you want to learn and expand your cooking skills this is an excellent book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So charming and awesome Dec 2 2013
By Lara F
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
AS a paleo eater, I'm in love with fat. Obviously these recipes aren't paleo, but I love the respectful discussion of my favourite ingredient. I'm pouring over this happily and passing it on to my non paleo friends in a gift exchange. A kitchen class.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fat Oct. 29 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have always had trouble encouraging customers and clients (and even family) to try foods that make use of the fat and all parts of the animal. Jennifer McLagan has helped overcome this problem with her book. It gives explanations that are simple, accurate and hard to argue with. Now even some of my most serious anti-fat people are giving it a go.

Thank you Jennifer,

Doug Murray
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific book Jan. 3 2011
By C. J. Thompson TOP 500 REVIEWER
This book says some things that I believe needed to be said. It really is time to reassess some of the prevailing dietary 'wisdom'. There are some great things in this book I wish to try and I enjoyed reading all the supplementary material. Some more pictures would be nice but that's only a minor quibble.
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