My Quest To Find Duck Fat

To live out here in suburban New Jersey has its upsides. The wildlife, the parking lots at the grocery store, not having to interact with nannies taking up Park Slope sidewalks with triple-wide strollers. Culinarily speaking, I may as well be living on the moon. There is no real food culture here. There are a handful of decent-to-good restaurants, but most appeal to a pedestrian palate that still thinks California Chardonnay is it in the wine world. Sigh.

I don’t mean to alienate anyone. Believe me, I come from a long history (and occasional nostalgic venture back to) blue box macaroni & cheese and Parmesan in a can, affectionately referred to as Shaky Cheese. Its just that, to a transplanted urbanite, duck fat is soooo 2006, back when The Harrison opened in TriBeCa and served duck fat french fries at the bar and then the snack popped up on menus all over the city, and became a darling of “whole animal” eating. Or so 1732 when French peasants were just trying to make it through the winter.

Enter, in 2011, my dozen or so wild goose legs awaiting their slow, fatty braise. Curing in my fridge as we speak (recipe here) I naively thought, how hard can it be to find a gallon or so of duck fat in The Garden State without a trip to New York?

Phone Call #1, Butcher:
Me: Hi, do you sell duck fat?
Him: No ducks.
Me: No, not a duck. Duck fat.
Him: Nothing to do with ducks. Click.

This first phone call also reminded me that customer service is not a priority in most places.

Phone Call #2, “Gourmet” Food Store
Me: Hi, do you sell duck fat?
Sheepish woman: Duck what?
Me: Duck Fat.
Her: What?
Me: Duck fat, like if I wanted to make confit or duck fat fries.
Her, suddenly confident: We don’t sell anything fried here. No fries, nothing fried.
Me: Sigh. Ok, thanks anyway.

Right, because so many of the people here still subscribe to the dieting mentality of 1998. Bun-free burgers are an option at our local Five Guys. A bun-free burger and a diet coke. Sigh.

Phone Call #3, Farm:
Me: Hi, do you sell duck fat?
Dude: Yes ma’am we do!
Me: Oh! You have no idea how happy that makes me! Can you tell me how you sell it? Quart? Gallon?
Dude: I think we sell it by the pint. Let me go get one and check on the price for you.

On hold, I think, of course a farm would have it! Why didn’t I call here first? Sure, its in Princeton, a farther trip than NYC, but so is The Bent Spoon, so I can get some ice cream.

Dude: Um, so we just sold the last of what was left. I could have some in for you by Thursday or Friday.

Click. Ugh. And no Bent Spoon.

So I continued to scour Google. A farm 2 hours away and Costco both offer to ship to me. Williams Sonoma says, “yes usually, but we are sold out of it at the moment.” Clearly there is a demand! Anyone who does carry it is sold out. I switch tactics and search for goose fat instead. I find a “Spruce Goose Christmas Tree Farm,” an article titled Ocean County Goose Farm Superfund Site and, best of all, an article titled New Jersey Farm Owner Sues Pilot Over Murdered Goose. The pilot in question is Chales “Sully” Sullenberger.

Sigh.

Tomorrow I have business in New York City. I’ll pick up the duck fat there and then. Meanwhile, my goose legs will continue to cure in the aromatic salt coating, blissfully unaware of the lengths I have gone (on the internet, anyway) to make them delicious.

  • Carl

    Rather funny, as I came across the same type of responses in my search. You would think with all the restaurants in AC that some people would have heard of duck fat. Well, still looking locally.

    • http://www.thegourmandandthepeasant.com Emily

      Hi Carl,

      Please let me know if you are successful in your quest! I’m still trekking in to NYC when I need a duck fat fix.
      EP