I am very pro-fat. Good butter, creamy yogurt, whole milk, lard (yes, lard) from pasture-raised animals, oily fish such as salmon and sardines, walnuts, olives, avocados—these foods, often vilified for their fat content—have always been at the heart of traditional food ways and, as we rediscover their many benefits, are coming back into favor again. And that’s good news. Fat brings flavor to dishes and is an essential part of our diet. Calling fish “brain food” isn’t just an old wives’ tale, the Omega-3 fatty acid in oily fishes has been found to support the functionality of our gray matter.
Fat is not the enemy but it has been made the clown. And that is what is at the heart of the recent push back against some celebrity chefs. It’s not the use of butter—it’s the “deep-fried butter pie filled with cream and bacon and topped with chocolate sauce” mentality that chafes. Many chefs use fat, and sometimes ample amounts of it—to delicious effect. But guild the Lily too much and it becomes garish—so over the top that it seems like a joke. Fat as an ingredient can be tasty and good for you, fat as a meal is a punch line. Fine for a laugh but not for dinner.
The sad part is that this whole fiasco will be viewed by many as another vote against fat. “That demon strikes again. Beat it back with pills.” But fat is not the culprit, just the fall guy. It’s time to separate the stick from the schtick and give butter and other quality fats their proper place in the pantry.
Want a fun project to do with the kids (or even on your own)? Make your own butter! It’s easier than you think and will give you and your good quality fats a chance to spend some quality time together. Add a cup of cream (preferably from grass-fed cows) to a pint sized jar (canning jars work very well). Add a pinch of salt. Close the lid tightly. Now shake that puppy! After about 10 minutes, the buttermilk will separate out, leaving behind a ball of nice creamy butter. Remove it from the jar and, holding it over the sink, squeeze it tightly in your fist to remove any trapped moisture. Enjoy (and I mean it—good food is good, savor every bite)! Keeps, refrigerated, for at least a week.