I want to focus on Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes. Let me start by saying that I think this is fantastically researched book. McLagan offers a ton of information about butter, pork, poultry, beef, and lamb fat. Small historical blurbs are sprinkled about the pages of the book, while also including unique recipes, and basic techniques for utilizing fat.
As an example McLagan gives a recipe for Bacon Baklava and the page next to it is a recipe that utilizes all of the rendered fat from the bacon in the form of Bacon Fat Spice Cookies. I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to have a go. I wanted to try the bacon baklava but had been given the task of making the bacon for a family brunch. Armed with a pound of Curly Tail Farms bacon, I saved the rendered fat for the cookies.
The sound of bacon fat in your cookies sounds utterly disgusting. Visions of cool, thick, white grease being left behind by, of all things, a dessert is less than appetizing. After thinking about it a little bit, though, you realize that fat is fat. As long as you’re not after a buttery taste to begin with, and are using it in a strongly flavored spice cookie with a dominant taste of gingerbread, what’s the difference?
The straightforward recipe resulted in a couple dozen cookies that had the texture of freshly baked sugar cookies that were still warm. They taste just like gingerbread cookies only chewier. I, nor anyone else, could taste the saltiness of the bacon in the cookies themselves.
I enjoy making stuff like this, if for no other reason because it makes me think alternatively about how or why we use certain ingredients. The next time you’re in a bookstore look for Fat. I think you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
By the way, I love recipes that are written in the metric system, which is what the author has done in this book.
Makes 20 to 24 cookies (made 22 for me)
- Flour - 1 ¼ cups/5 oz./150g
- Sugar – ½ cup/3 ½ oz/100g plus 1 teaspoon
- Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon
- Cinnamon (ground) – ¾ teaspoon
- Ginger (ground) – ¾ teaspoon
- Cloves (ground) – ¾ teaspoon
- Bacon Fat – ½ cup/3 ½ oz./100g (from approximately 1 pound of bacon)
- Molasses – 2 Tablespoons
- Egg – 1
2. Combine the flour, ½ cup/3 ½ oz/100g of the sugar, the salt, and the spices in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the bacon fat, molasses, and egg and pulse until the mixture forms a soft dough.
3. Take level tablespoons of the dough and roll them into balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches / 5 cm apart. Using a fork, flatten the balls slightly, and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar.
4. Bake the cookies until they are beginning to brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.
Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.