The virtues of duck fat: From your palate to your prime

Why this famously fatty fat by Fatworks makes your cooking simply divine - and is actually good for you!  

When it comes to duck fat, you may think of French cuisine, fries from a cool gastro pub, or maybe even your grandma’s flaky pie crust.

But this fat isn’t limited to gourmands or grannies any longer, thanks to Fatworks, a Colorado-based company that boasts an array of healthy, premium, traditional fats that are crafted in the most natural way possible. Helmed by David Cole, Fatworks is truly the first to bring these fats back to the forefront of everyday, delectable American cooking.

In particular, we’re totally excited about Fatworks Duck Fat, and that’s why it’s one of our top featured products. Today we’d love to indulge the myriad virtues of this liquid gold, if you will. We chose it as an important component to our grocery cart because first, it’s pasture raised and grass fed (as David explains below, these characteristics are nearly impossible to find in such a fat). Second, but just as importantly, this stuff tastes like smooth, rich and decadent fat; but it’s down to earth enough for simple recipes like stir fries and roasted potatoes. As Linda Richman said on Saturday Night Live’s Coffee Talk, “It’s like buttah” – except worlds better!

We had some quality one-on-one time with David, so we can share even more great juicy tidbits about his Duck Fat with you today. Here’s what you can expect when you crack open your glass jar:

Pasture raised & Non-GMO: Fatworks contacted every single duck farmer in the country to ensure this fat is up to the company’s sky-high standards. Of all, there was only one that met those standards, meaning the ducks are actually pasture raised on a small family farm. While all pasture raised ducks receive supplemental feed, here, the ducks receive feed that’s GMO-free. The result of all of David’s scouring is the only pasture raised, non-GMO duck fat on the market today.

Small batch, kettle rendering: The renderings of Fatworks Duck Fat are made in petite batches of about 600 pounds. Some companies will claim “small batch,” but that’s not really the case. Fatworks contacted some of these companies only to find their definition of “small batch” is 10,000-gallon kettles!

Handcrafted: “When we say handcrafted, we mean it,” David says. Fatworks loads the duck fat by hand. They’re able to see it while it’s being prepared and stir it with a paddle. It’s also fine filtered and hand jarred to ensure a beautiful end product with no sediment. This artisanal craftsmanship means Fatworks Duck Fat costs a little more than the mass produced stuff that comes in vats, to which David says, “We hope that people understand and care.”

Mmmm the flavor!: This Duck Fat yields a silky smooth feel, deep browning ability and satisfying savory taste. As anyone who has had this amazing stuff knows, raising ducks on a pasture makes for a healthier bird with a richer, more complex and delicious tasting fat. As for people who’ve never had it… David explains the taste as follows: “Duck Fat imparts a rich distinct delicious flavor that you need to experience to understand. There’s a reason gourmet chefs have been using duck fat as their secret weapon for centuries. Even people who don't like duck meat love cooking with Duck Fat. There's just something special about it.” Fatworks duck fat is also stable and doesn’t oxidize like common vegetable oils.

Nutrition profile: Duck fat is comprised mostly of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fat can help support healthy cholesterol levels by reducing low-density lipoprotein (unhealthy cholesterol).* It also supports overall cardiovascular health.* Of the 39.34 grams of total fat in a 100 gram serving of duck meat, about 18.7 grams come from monounsaturated fats. As opposed to pure, pasture-raised duck fat, vegetable oils and other highly processed cooking fats are treated with chemicals, as well as bleached, deodorized and refined.

Oh the things you can cook!: David’s comforting Duck Fat fall back is adding a heaping dollop to a cast iron skillet and frying it up with some organic veggies and leafy greens from the farmer’s market and either some thick, crunchy bacon or a nice, grass fed steak. At the same time, the possibilities are truly endless! You can use Duck Fat as you would butter or olive oil. Here are some enticing ideas that Fatworks “Fatheads” love to whip up:

  • Paleo chocolate chunk cookies with Duck Fat in place of butter,
  • A hearty steak or pork chops seared in Duck Fat,
  • Homemade, creamy Duck Fat caramels,
  • Interesting, savory pies and pastries (Paleo friendly),
  • The ultimate duck fat fries topped with a fried egg,
  • Atop sourdough bread, sprinkled with sea salt.

Note that duck fat doesn’t taste gamey like some actual duck meat; it gives these dishes a subtle layer of rich, luscious fat.

For some awesome recipes, check out Fatworks’ repository. It’s David’s goal to help bring back all the traditional recipes based on fat that our grandparents relied upon, as many are tough-to-find due to the pre-internet, lard loving days of two generations ago.

Q and A with David Cole of Fatworks

In addition to the Duck Fat benefits and gorgeous, duck fatty culinary photos above, we wanted to share more from our talk with David Cole. Here’s some background about his groundbreaking company and the science of healthy fats.

Q: Tell us about how you got started and what makes Fatworks different.

A: I started the company about seven years ago because I became fascinated by the science of healthy fats and how political the agricultural lobbying became. We were the crazy ones who said, “I want to make a company selling fat.” We knew fat was good for the body and soul, but there was a lot of fat phobic resistance at the time.

We were the first to try and make the fat shelf-stable, so we took it and packed in glass. It doesn’t sound that revolutionary, but before Fatworks, everything was going into a plastic tub or it was hydrogenated by the big companies.

If we’re talking about duck fat, commercial food manufacturers would put it in buckets (for food service). We were the ones to try to help people understand that these fats are really high in quality, not bad for you like it’s been portrayed for decades.

Compare duck fat to cheap, industrialized canola oil, for example, and you will see that duck fat is really precious stuff. Our animal fats are actually a lot higher in quality and it takes a lot more to craft a premium product than it does an industrialized vegetable oil.

Other big companies are now unfortunately copying our model. This is frustrating, as they were the ones who were pushing the low-fat, sugar craze on us because that’s easier to produce.

We really were the pioneers and we’re proud of that. We brought back fat.

Q: Who are your healthy fat followers and lovers of duck fat?

A: We have a whole community of healthy people who follow us, like Paleo/Primal, Ketogenic, Weston A. Price/Price-Pottenger, GAPS, Just Eat Real Fooders, naturopaths, certain nutritionists, the Whole30 movement, autoimmune communities, and even physicians and a cardiologist are getting on board with the ideas that natural fats are not “bad.”

Q: We definitely have a clue, but can you fill us in on your stance about healthy fats?

A: As I say on our website… Someone needs to defend fat and we’re happy to be the ones to do it. Thankfully, we’re not alone. Many researchers, doctors and nutritionists are finally starting to promote fat. In fact, most real, healthy traditional fat is good for you.* The antiquated myths that malign saturated fat are based on an unproven 60-year-old "lipid hypothesis,” which states that saturated fat raises cholesterol; higher cholesterol causes heart disease and therefore, saturated fat causes heart disease.

Now, to be fair to fat-phobics, in the short term, there is a modest increase in cholesterol when you eat saturated fat. However, over the long term, saturated fat has not been shown to raise cholesterol levels by any large degree for most people. But, and here’s the important part, the truth is that simply raising one’s cholesterol does not cause heart attacks. We can even take it one step further and tell you that there seems to be a protective element to cholesterol for overall mortality rates and higher cholesterol is associated with better brain health (Maybe because the brain is 80% cholesterol!).

Of course, we’re just the crafters of fat, so take a look at the following links written by health leader Chris Kresser  - one of our heroes:

I also want to add that we believe that bad fat and bad oil is just as bad as anything else. So that’s why we make sure to source from the get go. This isn’t just about making fat. It’s about making sure it’s the highest quality fat, in the way the animals are raised and what they’re fed (pasture, grass, and how it’s rendered).

Q: What do you tell people when they ask your opinion on “the best” type of fat to consume?

A: All of our fats have some degree of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats, as they occur in nature. I tend to think of fats like vegetables. People want to say, “What’s the best?” As you want to get a spectrum of veggies, each of these fats have slightly different fatty acids. The science hasn’t been done on the fatty acids as it has with vitamins. But the hypotheses would be that you need a spectrum of fats just as you would vitamins, as long as they are good.

Q: What do you say to people who hear “duck fat” and think fancy chefs?

A: Duck fat has a gourmet connotation in our society, but it definitely shouldn’t scare people away. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to take advantage of the nice flavors. This is real food and it’s what we’re all about: Providing real food for people to eat.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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