Fat is fabulous

1 July 2013

Today, I was given a present. It was a box containing lard, beef dripping, lamb dripping and wagyu oil. I know some of you are cringing at my box of fat but I see a world of flavour-bilities. Is fat so bad? Surely not in winter! Judi writes…

Skinny latte, sugar free everything, skinless chicken breast, diet meals and let’s not forget extra lean minced beef. We measure the merit of our food on daily intakes, sodium content, and calorie count. This is not eating. This is ‘preating’ – pretending to eat. Food without flavour. Food without fat. Food processed into something that is a devil in (lean) sheep’s clothing.

Fat equals taste as anyone who has ever tried to make a skinless chicken breast flavoursome should know. Fat is not unhealthy. I love it in its most basic forms. A generous spread of butter on a warm sourdough loaf, a slow cooked lamb shoulder with rosemary and garlic, beef bourguignon , a marvellous marbled cut of steak or a crunchy, sublime morsel of pork crackling. This is real food for people who love to eat and don’t mind putting on a few pounds during the dark days when no one is ever going to see your thighs.

Winter is a time we should be shoring up our reserves against cold weather, preparing to retire into a cave and hibernate after gorging on coq au vin, sausage and mash, osso buco. These dishes comfort and caress our bodies and souls into a state of warming inertia in preparation for evenings in front of the fire, knitted clothing which hides every fleshy roll and cuddling one’s spouse specifically to sap their body heat. Comfort food needs fat and fat means flavour.

Don’t be fooled by pretend winter food. A winter salad is for me a contradiction in terms even if it doesn’t involve bacon. Vegetarians are at a disadvantage at this time of year and should probably spend the cold months eating only cheese based meals. Vegans may as well go to bed and wake up to a salad sandwich in October.

Some of my absolute favourite dishes to cook are the comfort foods that I crave when there is a nip in the air. Admittedly, being English, I have been known to cook a shepherd’s pie in forty degree heat. Last night I cooked chicken cacciatore and threw in some cannellini beans to give it an unctuous quality, serving it with a baguette and lashings of French butter. My jeans were tight but my tummy was triumphant.

Winter food is not always about European dishes. Who can resist a wonderful Asian roast duck, plump Northern Chinese noodles, dumplings and laksa? Thankfully it seems impossible to find any cuisine that does not eat pork fat in some form.

So, celebrate the winter months, forget about your figure, and throw out your diet desserts. Eat bowl food, cooked in one pot. Relish the absolute perfection of a roast belly of pork, fat oozing through the flesh, spreading its magical flavours, enrobed in orgasmic crackling and served with mashed potatoes with oodles of butter. After a rest perhaps a pudding …but that’s a whole other story.