This week we're going to address wholesome fats and their proper place in the kitchen and on your dinner plates. Poorly interpreted research in the field of fat intake and heart disease caused a furor over the rightful place of fat in the human diet, and before the interpretations of that research could be fully evaluated, an entire industry specializing in low-fat, non-fat and animal-fat free foods erupted.
Wholesome fats, however, held a revered place in the human diet until the middle of the 20th century. Indeed many full-fat foods such as butter, cream, lard and egg yolk were held sacred to peoples throughout the world who held true and fast to the diets of their ancestors. In our home, we celebrate fat: it's dense in nutrients (learn more about fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K) and adds flavor and smoothness to foods.
Not every fat, no matter how natural, is suited to every purpose (learn more about fats and their uses in the kitchen). Some fats are richer in saturated fats which are heat-stable to relatively high temperatures while others are rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids which are less well-suited to cooking. As in many aspects of traditional foods, it's not just about what you eat but how you prepare it.
When cooking fats at high or moderate heat, it's important to choose heat-stable cooking fats: those rich in saturated fat. Similarly, you should avoid subjecting more fragile oils (like olive oil) to heat. So, today, your goal is to find a cooking fat you love, and give up using more fragile fats in your cooking. Remember, while these fats are suitable for high heat, that doesn't mean high heat cooking is the only way to prepare them; rather, they maybe eaten lightly cooked or even raw (as individual tastes dictate).
Wholesome Fats for High-heat Cooking: Tallow, suet, ghee or clarified butter (see sources), coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter
How to Recognize these Fats: At room temperature, saturated fats are more or less solid. The greater the saturated fat content, the more densely solid the fat will be.
Suitable Uses in Your Kitchen:Sautéing, baking, pan-frying, for larding meats, and frying (in moderation).
Also, don't forget to check in and let everyone know how you did during the challenge's first week.