Culinary Notes: Foods That Are Good for You, Including … Duck Fat?

Lynne Kiesling

A couple of nifty food notes have crossed my path today. First, an incredibly handy list of places to find duck fat french fries around the US, including the fabulous Hot Doug’s in Roscoe Village in Chicago. Yummmmm, encased meats! Interestingly, the hat tip for this article goes to John Hodgman’s Twitter feed. I love when Twitter is substantive!

On a related note, at New Year’s Eve dinner one of my friends claimed that duck fat has similar health benefits to olive oil and other unsaturated fats. I was skeptical but hopeful, as I am a huge fan of duck. Turns out she’s right, and I’ve even found a 1991 New York Times article on the French (quelle surprise!) research substantiating the claim:

In a paper presented to a convention of duck and goose producers in France last spring, Dr. Renaud suggested that goose and duck fat may improve cardiovascular health. Only clinical studies can determine the benefits of the fat from web-footed birds, but chemists agree with Dr. Renaud, who said in a recent telephone interview, “Goose and duck fat is closer in chemical composition to olive oil than it is to butter or lard.”

A more recent New York Times article, from June 2008, lists some of the foods that are relatively easily accessible that you should be eating but probably aren’t. These include beets (YUM), swiss chard (yum), frozen blueberries (YUM!), canned pumpkin (YUM), and sardines (yuck). The article also helpfully lists ways to prepare these foods. After first reading this article over the summer I bought a tin of sardines, and they still sit in my pantry, awaiting the appearance of my steely nerve to get me to try to choke them down. I think I’ll follow the article’s advice and mulch them into a purée with mustard, onions, and lots of pepper. My idea was to grill them, but it got to be winter before I steeled my nerves to do so.

9 thoughts on “Culinary Notes: Foods That Are Good for You, Including … Duck Fat?

  1. Hiya. Just discovered you in writing a short piece on a place you reviewed a while ago, vino volo. i love the piece on duck fat.

  2. Baguette and tomatoes, yum. Chopped egg, not so much.

    I am not a picky eater, but little fish and hard-boiled eggs are two of the things on my short YUCK list!

    Suggestions are more than welcome.

    Bibliochef, I’ll check out your blog, thanks! Sadly, the last few times we’ve flown out of BWI it’s been in the morning, so no Vino Volo for us.

  3. Canned sardines? Adopt a cat so you’ll have someone who will eat them. Fresh sardines however…..

    On the duck and goose fat. There has indeed been substantial research showing that those French who come from areas where they are part of the traditional cuisine have less heart disease. However, we’ve then got the causation problem. One popular theory is that those who were prone to heart disease in those areas died out generations ago as a result of eating goose and duck fat…..

  4. The best way to buy duck fat is to buy a large tin of confit de canard (duck legs preserved in their own fat). A tin with 4 to 5 legs will feed 4 to 5 people and leave you with about a pint of duck fat.

    Serve the confit with potatoes fried in the duck fat and a nice tossed salad! Don’t forget to add some garlic to the potatoes just before serving and wash it down with a glass of red wine!

  5. Chris – YUM! An excellent suggestion. The duck fat in use on New Year’s Eve was on peeled, parboiled potatoes that were then roasted in some duck fat. They were mighty fine, and I will replicate them, but as you say I will add some garlic.

  6. One of the greatest benefits of roasting a goose is the significant amount of lovely goose fat you end up with. It is unsurpassed for making pommes frites. Years ago the street vendors in Paris used to use horsefat for their pommes frites. I don’t know whether that’s still the case. It wasn’t bad, either.

  7. Hi Lynne

    I’m a big fan of roasts! But what to do after the holiday season is over and we’re all feeling a little health conscious?

    One thought though – have you considered replacing the goose fat with hemp seed oil, such as Good Oil:

    Not only does it have a slightly fresher taste (in my opinion), but it’s also a good healthy alternative to goose fat, dramatically reducing the calorie count in the dish, while not compromising on taste.

    I should disclose that GOOD OIL is a client of mine, so feel free to get in touch for more information, I can also send out a sample for you to try if you like.

    All the best – Keep up the good work


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