Saturday, January 3, 2009
Remember last year when I paid a bunch of money to try the new and improved pork, mangalitsa? Well, knowing that the fat from the mangalitsa was the most prized part of this pig, I saved the copious amounts that cooked off of my roast by putting tablespoon-sized lumps of the chilled, solidified fat in the freezer. I've used the fat throughout the year, whenever I remember it mostly. But the other night my final tablespoon of mangalitsa fat transformed an ordinary chicken thigh into an extraordinary meal. I made sure that the chicken was very dry, then doused it liberally with salt and pepper. The fat was heated until it was almost smoking, then I browned the chicken on each side for about 5 minutes before tenting the pan with foil and putting it in the oven. I cooked it at 375° for about 15 minutes, flipping it once. I can't explain how the fat made the chicken taste so delicious, but it was just, well, extremely tasty. The fat had created a crispy and succulent crust on the outside (even despite the fact that it was skinless), while the meat inside was juicy, tender, and dripping with flavor. The chicken was just your average grocery store bird, so maybe all of their claims about this miraculous fat are right? Who would have thought that something we take for granted every day, simple fat, could be so significant and transformative. So save your fat!