I always make a point of looking in the frozen meat section at Seward Co-op because it usually has a nice traditional foods-minded surprise or two. I’ve found various different kinds of liver, chicken feet, homemade fish and chicken stock, and lard there. Today: two packages of duck fat! I took the smaller of the two, not knowing what to expect.
A little research revealed that duck fat, like lard, must be rendered. It did take a couple hours, mostly unattended. Also, it didn’t have nearly the strong smell that the pork lard had. The kitchen just smelled vaguely chickeny.
I used this method:
2. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat until all the water boils off and the cracklings start to get browned.
3. Drain through cheesecloth into half-pint jars. I’m not sure how long this will keep in the refrigerator, but I’d guess 4-6 weeks at the most. Hence the tiny containers. Extra containers can go in the freezer.
Yield: 1.5 half-pints of duck fat (or, nearly 1 pint). We used it to fry some potatoes and patty-pan squash for supper, and they turned out great. The ever-so-slight chicken flavor was only detectable in some bites, and it was not unpleasant at all. This experiment went much better than my lard one!
Apparently, duck fat is a very gourmet, very French thing to use in cooking (even Jamie Oliver recommends it). Traditionally in Germany they also made schmaltz with duck or goose fat — a butter replacement that they spread on bread, apparently. I’m reading a book about traditional German cooking right now which may lead to both the roasting of a goose and the making of some schmaltz. (I already make sauer kraut on the regular basis so I’ve got that covered.) The schmaltz recipe in the book calls for an apple and an onion to be cooked with the fat and discarded with the cracklings.
Our supper tonight: potatoes and patty-pan squash cooked in duck fat with thyme and orange zest, plain couscous, and a massaged kale salad. A yummy way to celebrate the start of Daylight Savings Time.