Duck fat has gained popularity among chefs and food enthusiasts for its unique qualities.
Whether you’re sautéing vegetables, frying potatoes, or baking pastries, duck fat is a rich and luxurious ingredient that adds depth and flavor. But what is it, exactly?
What is duck fat?
Duck fat is a solid cooking fat that is rendered from the fatty tissues of ducks.
It is a popular ingredient used in culinary preparations due to its rich flavor and versatility. Duck fat has been used in various cuisines for centuries, particularly in French cuisine.
Duck fat has a distinct flavor that is often described as rich, savory, and slightly nutty. It’s used in various cooking techniques, including sautéing, roasting, frying, and confit.
How is duck fat made?
To obtain duck fat, the fatty tissues of the duck, such as those surrounding the organs and beneath the skin, are gently cooked over low heat.
This heating process melts the fat, allowing it to be separated from any solids and impurities.
The resulting liquid is strained and collected as duck fat.
Benefits of duck fat
One of the main reasons duck fat is highly regarded in the culinary world is its ability to enhance the taste and texture of food. It adds a unique depth of flavor and richness to dishes, especially when used for frying or roasting. Duck fat can be used to cook a variety of ingredients, including vegetables, potatoes, poultry, meat, and even pastries.
In addition to its flavor benefits, duck fat also has a favorable nutritional profile. While it is a fat, it contains a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats compared to other animal fats, like butter or lard. It also contains some essential fatty acids and is a good source of vitamin E.
Duck fat can be suitable for various dietary needs. It is often favored by those following special diets like the paleo or keto diet. It is also a suitable alternative for individuals who are lactose intolerant and cannot use butter in their cooking.
Duck fat nutrition facts
|Serving size||1 tbsp (15mL)|
|Total Fat||14 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to cook and bake with duck fat
Duck fat is a fantastic ingredient that can bring a lot of flavor to your dishes.
Try coating meat or potatoes with a thin layer of duck fat before roasting them in the oven for tender, flavorful, and crispy delights! Or, heat up a skillet, melt some duck fat, and use it as a substitute for butter or oil for sautéing mushrooms, onions, or potatoes.
Oh, and have you heard of confit? It’s a classic French dish that involves slow-cooking duck legs in duck fat. The result is incredibly tender and flavorful meat that just falls off the bone. All you have to do is submerge the duck legs in melted duck fat in a pot or slow cooker and let them cook slowly until they reach perfection.
And guess what? Duck fat can even be used in baking! If you’re making pie crusts, simply substitute butter or shortening with chilled duck fat. The result? A flaky, buttery, and oh-so-tasty crust that will take your pies to the next level. You can even add a touch of duck fat to biscuit or pastry dough for an extra burst of flavor in your baked goods.
However, duck fat has a somewhat low smoke point, so if your recipe requires high heat, it might start smoking. Duck fat isn’t meant to deep-frying like other oils.
And remember, a little goes a long way in terms of flavor, so start with small amounts and adjust to your taste!
Ways to use duck fat
Duck fat is delicious in the following dishes and baked goods:
- Duck fat-roasted chicken or turkey
- Roasted vegetables (brussels sprouts, potatoes, and root vegetables)
- Sautéed mushrooms, onions, and potatoes
- French fries
- Fried chicken or fish
- Duck confit
- Pie crusts
- Biscuits and pastries
- Duck fat-fried potatoes (pommes de terre sarladaises)
- Fried eggs
How to make duck fat at home
Making duck fat at home is a simple process:
- Purchase duck fat or collect the fat from ducks (if you have a trusted source).
- Trim any excess skin or meat from the fat.
- Cut the fat into small, uniform pieces.
- Place the fat pieces in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet.
- Heat the pan over low heat, allowing the fat to slowly melt.
- Stir occasionally to prevent the fat from sticking to the pan.
- Once the fat has completely melted and any impurities have settled, strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove any solids.
- Transfer the strained duck fat to a clean, airtight container, and let it cool to room temperature.
- Store the duck fat in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.
How to store duck fat
To store duck fat properly, it’s best to transfer it to an airtight container. This helps prevent exposure to air and odors from the refrigerator or freezer.
When stored in the refrigerator, duck fat can last for several months, while in the freezer, it can remain usable for up to a year.
What are the best substitutes for duck fat?
Duck fat isn’t the most readily available ingredient. If you can’t get your hands on any, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered:
Chicken fat (schmaltz) is probably the best substitute for duck fat, offering a similar flavor and richness for most of your cooking needs. You can also use lard in some cases, but the flavor won’t be nearly as rich.
If you need something that’s going to hold up under high temperatures, I recommend ghee (clarified butter), as it has a high smoke point and can withstand high heat.
Duck fat is made from the rendered fat of ducks, typically obtained by slowly melting the fatty tissues of the bird.
Duck fat and butter have different nutritional profiles. Duck fat contains higher levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, making it a healthier choice compared to butter.
Duck fat is also known as “liquid gold” among chefs due to its rich flavor.