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Best Use for Different Cooking Fats


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It drives me bonkers that almost all of the Whole30 recipes I see simply say "2 TBSP cooking fat" rather than a recommendation for a specific type of fat! I'd very much appreciate if you could provide a list of types of foods that are best with different fats, particularly animal fats! What works best with beef, pork, eggs, sauteed vegetables, etc? 

For reference, I currently have olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, beef tallow, pork lard, and duck fat. I honestly have hardly used the animal fats because I'm a little scared and have no idea what sort of dishes to pair those with! 

Thank you so much in advance! I'd love to be able to introduce more variety!

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A lot of it is a matter of taste, so you'll really just have to break down and try things and see what you like. Try small batches of things, don't make a weeks worth of something in an oil you haven't used before. To me, scrambled or fried eggs are a good way to judge the flavor of an oil, I find they're a place where I really notice if I don't care for a particular one. 

I found the beef tallow I bought to have a very strong flavor, which I didn't particularly like in most dishes. I ended up mostly using it to roast root vegetables, or if I had lean beef that needed a little fat to cook in, and when I ran out, I didn't replace it.

Pork lard had a milder flavor to me, and I cooked just about anything in it. Eggs, veggies, other meats -- I didn't notice it adding any particular flavors, so it didn't bother me to use it in just about anything. 

Duck fat has a flavor to it, but I enjoyed it when roasting vegetables, and it was okay to cook eggs in but not my favorite.

Any of the animal fats should be okay to use when searing meats. Many plant-based oils do not stand up to that kind of heat. 

EVOO I will use to cook in sometimes, but mostly I use it for salad dressings and sauces. Do not use this for searing meat -- it does not stand up to the kind of heat you need for searing.

Avocado oil was okay for cooking veggies in. The one I bought was mild enough to make mayo with as well, though I hear that some have more flavor than others. It is more expensive than coconut oil or olive oil, at least in my area, so it's not one I keep on hand all the time, I just buy it if the mood strikes, or I find a good deal somewhere. I know people who have Costco memberships buy big containers and use it more often, so your mileage may vary here.

Coconut oil comes in refined and unrefined. The unrefined smells and tastes like coconut. I think of this as a feature, other see it as a problem. I cook just about everything in coconut oil. I particularly like it with things like sweet potatoes and root veggies that already have a bit of sweetness to them, but I use it with eggs as well. I know some people really cannot handle the smell/taste -- for those people, the refined coconut oil is a good option and can be used in the same ways that regular coconut oil can be used, it just won't change the flavor at all.

(For the technical side of this, what oils hold up to what temperatures, here's a good explanation of smoke points.) 


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