For a time, of course, fat was considered the work of the devil – packed with cholesterol and far less healthy than refined vegetable oils. It seems to have had a name change, and just in time. These days, a little animal fat or quality butter (with its “good” saturated fats as opposed to bad trans fats) is generally considered more acceptable than an ultra-processed oil.
Perhaps inevitably, it is also considered “greedy”. Grease-washed cocktails are all the rage, and no small-plate menu is complete without something fried or a few delicate shavings of lardo (oily pork rind, which oddly sounds more appealing than lard) or a rub of beef aged dripping on toast. Ocado sells little tubs of Iberian pork fat for £3.15, and you can order natural pork lard direct from some farms (try coombefarmorganic.co.uk if you fancy getting some super high-end fat). range).
For chefs, the cooking oil crisis means no more frying. Ellis Barrie, chef-owner of destination restaurant Lerpwl in Liverpool, says he’s taking his fried snacks off the menu as the price of sunflower oil has tripled: “We’re going to get rid of our fried stuff so we’re not use the fryer at all… We’ll just start finding textures from alternate sources.
He could consider using a refined British rapeseed oil, but fears it could be just as expensive. Olive oil is used up because it burns too quickly and therefore cannot be used for frying at very high temperatures. Like most high-end restaurants, they use as many animals as possible, eliminating fat and reusing it. But unless your menu is entirely meat-based, adds Barrie, replacing oil with lard isn’t really “a viable alternative.”
At home, however, that might just be the answer. Meat can be expensive (chicken is almost more expensive than beef right now), but if you can get a pot of cooking fat out of it and maybe a pot of broth, it starts to look better value- price. Paul Foster, chef-owner of Michelin-starred Salt in Stratford-upon-Avon, recommends using the fat already on a piece of meat to cook it. [the oil]said Foster, who was paying £11 for five liters – last week he spent £42.
“If you’re cooking lamb chops, for example, you don’t need to put oil in the pan; you can cook the fat side first, then flip it over to the meat side and use its own fat to cook it. It’s easy to add a few tablespoons of oil, but it’s not necessary.
It’s time to dodge the oil bottle and start collecting your leftover fat, then. Turns out Granny was right all along.
The Chef’s Guide to Old-Fashioned Cooking Tricks to Beat the Oil Crisis
Filter your cooking oil
Chef Simon Wood, of Wood Manchester, recommends straining all cooking oils through a muslin cloth and reusing them. “Get a good sieve and maybe some cheesecloth or cheesecloth and once the oil has cooled, pour it in. Run the oil regularly and you’ll easily double the life, maybe more,” he says.
You just need to make sure to fish out the little bits left over from the first fry, otherwise they will burn. And “be careful what you cook there,” he adds. “If you’re going to make a piece of fish in there, you’re going to taint the [flavour of the] oil.”
Make your own cooking spray
It can be difficult not to pour a large amount of oil from some supermarket bottles and cans. That means we often use “way too much” oil for cooking at home, Wood says. Instead of sticking to the original container “you can put it in a spray bottle, like one-dose sprays, so you use less,” he suggests.