Vermont author Andrea Chesman has written more than a dozen cookbooks spotlighting vegetables as the star ingredients. As she researched her book The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How, Chesman challenged herself to learn about the food people can grow or raise on a homestead. “I started working with animal fat as a way of nose-to-tail eating,” she says. “I came to appreciate that animal fats yield superior results in terms of flavor and texture.”
That realization led to her new book, The Fat Kitchen, (Storey Publishing, 2018, $24.95), where she teaches readers how to render, cure, and cook with lard, tallow, and poultry fat. “Poultry fats really enhance the flavor of foods,” she says, “and tallow and lard are somewhat more neutral in flavor, but they add great texture.” A good example is her duck-fat caramelized apples, which can be folded into rice pudding or served with pancakes and waffles or ice cream.
- 1/4 cup (1.7 ounces/50 grams) duck fat (or any poultry fat)
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar, or as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 cups peeled, cored, and diced apples
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour, mixed with 2 tablespoons water (if using in a tart)
Melt the duck fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until the brown sugar melts into the fat, about 2 minutes. Add the apples, stir to coat in the sugar mixture, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the variety. If the apples are to be used as a tart filling or topping, stir in the flour mixture and continue to cook until the filling is thick, about 5 minutes longer.
Taste and add more brown sugar, if needed. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat. Serve warm or cooled. Chill before using in a pastry.