Fats

Fats

For tips on how to make substitutions for fat in cooking, click here.


Varieties:

butter
butter
This is a delicious solid fat churned from milk. It's used in baking, frying, and as a spread on toast and muffins. Recipes that call for butter in most better cookbooks are referring to unsalted butter = sweet cream butter = sweet butter. Salted butter doesn't spoil as readily (the salt serves as a preservative). See also the entries for whipped butter and European-style butter.
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caul fat
caul fat
Look for this in the meat sections of Asian, French, and Italian markets. Caul fat from pork is considered superior to caul fat from lamb.
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clarified butter
clarified butter
This is butter without the milk solids, so it doesn't go rancid or smoke when heated to a high temperature. Look for jars of it in Indian markets.
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copha
This is a shortening based on coconut oil that's commonly used in Australia. It's very hard to find in the U.S.
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European-style butter
European-style butter
Plugra is a domestic brand. Since European-style butter has a lower moisture content, using it results in better pastries, icings, and sauces.
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lard
lard
Lard is rendered pork fat. It's high in saturated fat, and quite bad for you. Still, it's the fat of choice for making flaky pie crusts, though it's not as flavorful as butter. Some pastry chefs combine butter with lard to achieve a balance of flavor and flakiness. Lard is also used for frying since it can reach high temperatures without smoking. See also the entries for lard leaves and lardo.
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lardo
lardo
This is unrendered pork fat that fearless Italians slice and serve on bread.
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margarine
margarine
In addition to regular margarine, supermarkets usually carry diet margarine = lite margarine (with about half the fat and more water and air), soft margarine, whipped margarine (containing up to 50% air). These diet margarines make wonderful spreads, but they shouldn't be substituted for regular margarine in baked goods. For more information, visit the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service's Lite Margarine--Substitution for Baking page.
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shortening
shortening
Shortening can be made from either animal fat or vegetable oil. Crisco is a popular brand.
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suet
suet
It is the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals, used to make foods including puddings, pastry, and mincemeat. Your butcher will probably give some of this to you for free.
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yak butter
yak butter
Butter made from yak milk. Traditionally added to tea in Tibet.
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