The Art of Preservation: Fat

Growing up a little black girl in Los Angeles I always felt so conflicted about cooking; do I use my reserved bacon fat to scramble my eggs or olive oil? Ugh, decisions, decisions.

I was taught that the way my grandparents and great-grandparents ate (salt, fat, sugar, basically all things good) was unhealthy and I had to find suitable alternatives with which to make my food both good for me and delicious. Soul Food in general suffers from this idea that it's inherently unhealthy but that's just untrue! (More on that in another post...)

I'd accepted this fact as truth myself until I enrolled in culinary school.  Once there I learned all about French cuisine which has a celebrated history of cooking meats and vegetables in fat. Funny how things are more acceptable when black people aren't doing it (insert eyes up emoji that I wish I had on this computer but I don't). The French call it confit which is essentially the act of cooking something in its own fat to both preserve it and imbue whatever your making with more flava'.

While it's true that you can't actually cook say, garlic in its own fat (cause it doesn't have any...duh) you can use oil to do the trick. In fact, when I get a large bunch of veggies I know I won't be able to get to soon but also cook with fairly frequently, I roast them in oil. At any given moment if you look in my fridge you will see a quart container of roasted tomatoes and/or garlic. 

Roasting herbs, garlic, or tomatoes in olive oil also has the added benefit of giving you leftover flavored oil which you can use in allllllll sorts of things like pasta, salads, pizza, popcorn etc.,

This technique is so easy that it doesn't even require a recipe. Take any veggies you'd like to roast and cover them in a little bit of olive oil, some salt/pepper, and herbs. Roast at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes and then let cool. Place in a container and put in your fridge. Take it out and use whenever the hell you want. And that is literally it!

If you leave this stuff in olive oil you can keep it for about a month! That's a whole month to figure out what the hell to do with all this preserved stuff in your fridge! If you try any of this out let me know. I'd love to hear about it.