Our friend Julie said she wanted to come to our house the next time I made steak frites. This week, I found steak frites on our menu, so we invited Julie to come up to Taylor Manor for dinner. Not only was I preparing French fries – I was going to fry the potatoes in duck fat. Real frites.

We didn’t need to ask twice.

Apparently there is an underworld (thank you!) of ranchers and farmers who grow real vegetables, fruit and animals for us to enjoy at our table. Grimaud Farms of California not only raise Muscovy Duck and Guinea fowl, they also sell the rendered fat. $5 a pint. Frozen.

If you are reading this column and are my physician, please remember that I cookedpotatoes in duck fat. This does not necessarily mean I consumed said potatoes. (If you believe this statement, hopefully you also believe that I consume “one glass of wine per day”?)

The evening began in the family room, with a roaring fire and a salmon spread (3 oz lox, 3 oz cream cheese, 1 rounded tablespoon minced fresh dill) served with thinly sliced baguette. Oh… and Sidecars (1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz orange liquor, 1 oz cognac – shaken over ice and served in a martini glass). Twas yummy.

Then we all moved into the kitchen where Julie and DT sat on barstools around the continent island and watched me cook dinner.

Julie

I used the method tried last year to cook the French fries – cold oil in a pot, throw in the cut potatoes and turn up the heat. This is the best recipe for fries. No smoky mess. No splattering. No stinky house.

Organic Yukon Gold potatoes frying in duck fat. (You should could also use peanut oil.)

Come to Momma!

Twenty minutes from cold oil to heaven.

I also prepared Roasted Mushrooms Escargot-Style. This recipe, from the January 2009 Gourmet magazine, is a keeper. Toss teeny mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and capers – dot with butter and bake for 15-20 minutes. Toss in lemon juice, chopped parsley and serve. Super easy… and the juices are just wonderful sopped-up with a baguette.

Oh, I may have also made a reduction to pour over the steak – chicken stock, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, garlic, onion, peppercorns, red wine and balsamic vinegar – reduced from 3 cups to 3 Tablespoons… all together, a very lovely menu. Great food. Great company. Great conversation.

Until my next update, I remain, your fat-free correspondent.

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