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Posts Tagged ‘preserves’

duck fat galoreFollowing the laziest roast crispy duck in history my duck fat jar runneth over … almost.  So it should see us through the coming winter unless we take it into our heads to make confit and, considering the mess involved, I rather hope we don’t.

Duck fat is by far the best medium for roasting potatoes or greasing Yorkshire pudding tins and it’s ever my fat of choice for browning winter casseroles or starting off any dishes from the Basque or Languedoc regions.   Now I know goose fat is supposed to be even better, but given the price of a goose you might as well resign yourself to buying a tin of it and forego the satisfaction of making your own.  But duck fat is different: easier to come by and a most inconvenient waste product to dispose of if you can’t be bothered to save it.  If prepared with a modicum of care and kept in a reasonably cool and dark place it will survive for yonks outside the fridge: I keep mine on a shelf in the garage.

Just pour off the rendered fat during and after roasting a duck plain and slow (eg 6 to 7 hours at 140C) and leave it to cool overnight in the fridge.  Lift the fat away from any stray juices lurking underneath then reheat it to liquify.  Any moisture will bubble away, so when its puttering stops strain the liquid fat through a sieve lined with a couple of layers of muslin or even kitchen roll into a sterilised preserving jar and seal.  Discard the brown bits!  Enjoy its golden glow fading to white as it cools then hoard and scoop out as needed with a clean, dry spoon.

Depending on size one easily-available Gressingham duck should render at least 250ml fat. If you do nothing else with it, use a couple of tablespoons for roasting potatoes and greasing your Yorkshire pudding tin: you’ll be glad you did.

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Do you ever buy delicious edibles in jars or tubs?  If so, you’ve no doubt acquired more than a few items preserved in olive oil.  Now this idea is so obvious perhaps I’m just a slow learner, but until recently, once the olives, or sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes or anchovies were gone I used to throw away the oil left behind.

And then it dawned on me: that way flies food waste and for a frugal hedonist that way lies madness too.

Food manufacturers go to some lengths to keep us buying the fancy “deli” stuff aimed at our sophisticated palates.  This usually means adding herbs and/or garlic to enhance the flavour of the main attraction, so while blithely using the contents of the jar, might it not be a really good idea to also make use of the olive oil it’s been swimming in to augment and deepen the flavours of your dish – or even the whole meal?
sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

So if you’re cooking up beef daube with olives, brown the beef in oil from the olive jar (try anchovy for an authentic southern Rhône flavour) – or start your sofrito sizzling with sun-dried tomato oil for an Italian ragù.  Try frying the aubergines in artichoke oil next time you make caponata.  Kick off a pilaf with the same; add a few drops to plain couscous, a tablespoon or two to pizza dough…

rosemary branch in olive oilI have even been known to strain the oil into a decanter and poke in a couple of rosemary sprigs – hey presto, rosemary oil for focaccia!

Use in almost any recipe instead of your usual olive oil.  If you devote half a shelf in the fridge door to these almost empty jars and use them up quickly, not only is the extra depth of flavour well worth it, you’ll be able to save up your pennies for some really special olive oil.

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