Like many professional chefs, James Beard-nominated cookbook author and "Top Chef" vet Richard Blais' kitchen essentials are decidedly more advanced than those of the average home cook. (We're looking at you, liquid nitrogen.) One of his go-to's, however, is a relatively accessible ingredient that's worth stocking up on: Duck fat.
As told to Food & Wine (via The Hollywood Reporter), the co-host of Fox's "Next Level Chef" loves the rich rendered ingredient for its flavor-boosting capabilities. "Anything cooked in duck fat has a flavor that you can't get from oil or clarified butter," he said. At his restaurants, the kitchen staff were in the habit of supplementing the reserved fat from their roasted ducks by "[buying] it by the pail." The ingredient also makes frequent appearances in Blais' cookbooks. His confit turkey legs and thighs, demonstrated on the "Tamron Hall Show," calls for an entire quart of the stuff.
Considering the hearty, comforting fare usually featured at the chef's eateries — including California English, which serves up Golden State-spiked takes on British classics — duck fat makes all the sense. Luckily, it doesn't take professional know-how to incorporate this prized ingredient and its singular flavor into your everyday cooking.
Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay
Use It In Place Of Oil Or Butter For Ultimate Flavor
While chef Richard Blais has joked on Facebook about using the poultry product in his haircare routine, if you're new to cooking with duck fat, there's no need to jump in head first by using a ton of it at once. Instead, heed Blais' advice by subbing it in for oil, butter, or another type of fat the next time you're looking to make a simple dish more rich and flavorful.
One particularly easy way to go about this is using it to amp up the opulence factor of schmaltzy sides, like roasted duck fat potatoes. Duck fat yields an irresistibly crispy exterior packed with flavor in every bite, perfect for Thanksgiving or alongside a simple roasted chicken on a random Tuesday. Instead of drizzling olive oil over your spuds, toss them in melted duck fat with some garlic, salt and pepper, and woody herbs like thyme or rosemary (or whatever else your heart desires) before roasting. Need a dip? Save some extra fat to level up homemade mayo.
Where To Find Duck Fat
You don't need to roast a duck at home every time you want to cook with duck fat, nor do you need to buy it "by the pail" as Richard Blais does. Instead, swing by your local butcher and ask if they're willing to sell you a small container of rendered duck fat. If they don't sell duck, try the grocery store. Kroger, Safeway, and Whole Foods stock it in jars, as do many specialty food stores. Duck fat cooking spray also exists, though it's harder to find. If you're still out of luck, there's always the internet.
If you do decide to render duck fat at home, store it in an airtight container after straining. It will last a couple of weeks in the fridge and even longer in the freezer. A jar of store-bought duck fat, on the other hand, will last for up to six months in the fridge once it's opened.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.