I remember my grandmother, who lived through the Depression, always having a little bowl of saved fat in her fridge. She used it to grease pans, bake bread and roast potatoes.
I thought that was gross. I drank skim milk, discarded the fat off chicken stock and used olive oil to sauté potatoes. I also used recipes from low-fat books endorsed by a margarine company.
Now we know that obesity rose in tandem with low-fat diets, that olive and other polyunsaturated vegetable oils are unstable at high heat and that the kinds of trans fats once found in margarine are the biggest evil of all. And now some are sounding the alarm about unnatural processes and chemicals used to produce some vegetable oils.
“Eat butter; drink milk whole … stock up on creamy cheese, offal and sausage and, yes, bacon,” writes Nina Teicholz in The Big Fat Surprise, a 2014 book that surveys the science on fats and concludes “our conventional wisdom is really nothing more than 60 years of misconceived nutrition research.” No wonder there’s a new trend to turn back to my grandmother’s ways. Top international chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten turns out a sensational fried rice using chicken fat.
Aussie TV chef Curtis Stone creates a “freaking amazing” popcorn tossed with bacon, bacon fat and Parmesan cheese.
Vancouver cook Emily Wight makes peanut butter cookies even better by subbing bacon fat for butter.
“I wouldn’t worry about some saturated fat,” says Len Piché, a professor at Brescia University College’s school of nutrition in London, Ont.
“Don’t make it your primary source — I’d hope you’d have a variety of fats in your diet. But if you like the flavour, go ahead.
“Peanut butter cookies made with bacon fat? I’d be the first to try them.”