other foods, other fats


I was raised on olive oil. I was for most of my life not fully aware that there really were other cooking fats. I knew we kept ‘vegetable oil,’ made from vegetables, presumably, I think for popping corn. Butter was for baking with.

Things change. At the moment, we have duck fat (pictured), bacon fat and leaf lard, in the refrigerator. We frequently have tallow (beef fat, as hard as wax) and chicken fat. Usually twice a year, after holidays, we have goose fat, a favorite. All of these, with a small investment of time, are free for the not-throwing-away. In the case of lard it’s usually a matter of someone else throwing it away, but if you ask nice, it’s still usually free.

As much as I love olive oil and butter, there are some things that other fats do better. Poultry fat, for richness of flavor, cannot be beat. Leaf lard, as everybody knows, though hardly anybody has tried it, makes the best, flakiest pie crust. And not only that: lard-butter pie crusts are easier to make than butter-only ones. But lard is good for pan-frying, too: a little heavy, perhaps, but iconic in greens and beans, and good especially for use in the cold months. We don’t get much tallow on account of our not eating much beef, and the beef we do eat (don’t know his name, this last one, but he was an intact, one-year-old grass-fed bull) hasn’t got much fat on it. I suspect however that it has a higher smoking point than some other fats, though. I am still learning.

We keep a few other fats on hand, like coconut oil for popping corn, and sunflower oil, for I don’t actually know what, come to think of it. And I’m curious to play with grape seed oil and some nut oils, which I suspect I’ll get around to in good time. But those aren’t quite so free, or, now that I get around to mentioning it, local.

8 Comments on “other foods, other fats”

  1. rafael says:

    Speaking of popcorn, I remember a great many bowls of the stuff eaten back in the day with yeast and tamari whilst playing Ducktales or Ninja Gaiden at chez Huenink.

  2. For the record, we have walnut oil, almond oil, and sesame oil, too.

    (And we don’t put tamari on popcorn anymore, now that we’re all grown up and realize that soggy popcorn is weird. ;-)

  3. Will Huenink says:

    Took me a minute to remember Ducktales. Yup. Many great bowls.

  4. Will Huenink says:

    Probably fish oil and snake oil too, come to think of it.

    My dad had the soggy popcorn thing figured out, though. He used a spray bottle.

  5. Emilie says:

    So what is sunflower oil for? I keep it in the shower but would cook with it given the right suggestion.

  6. ani says:

    willum. will you write more about storing/getting the fats from these lovely animals?
    thank god for un-soggy popcorn.

  7. Fish oil indeed. Snake oil depends on your definition.

    It’s the Butterworks sunflower oil. I couldn’t resist it last time we were north. I mostly just use it in mayonnaise when I don’t want the olive oil to be too strong.

  8. Will Huenink says:

    Ans: All keep for ages in the fridge, but if we have a lot of something (more than we’ll use within a month or two) we keep it in the freezer until we need it. I’ve heard it said that lard will keep at room temperature fine for a matter of weeks if not months. Haven’t really looked into it, though.

    As for rendering, admittedly scanty directions can be found at the chicken fat link within the post, and lard-rendering at the lard link.

    As an adjunct to the scanty directions… if you are souping, skim off the scum as it rises (ought to rise before the fat) then spoon off the fat into a jar. You’ll get some broth, too, of course, so let the jar cool: the particulate will fall to the bottom, and the fat will congeal at the top. Separate, reheat the fat in a skillet, and pour it into its final container.

    I’ll have to do a proper technical post some day.

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