One hundred years ago our great grandmothers didn’t have a category for diet food. They ate from the ground, from the bird, from the cow and from the sea. With the proviso “waste not, want not” ringing through their minds, they most certainly didn’t throw out any portion of those precious commodities. Chicken livers became pate, egg yolks became hollandaise and duck fat was scooped up for cooking tomorrow’s breakfast.
However, somewhere along the line we began to believe that food in its natural form was unfit for our consumption. We bought into the idea that nature could not supply the correct ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates to sate our appetites and keep us free from disease.
Has it ever struck you as odd that the composition of macronutrients we’re “supposed to” consume aren’t really found in nature? Broccoli cannot compete with whey protein powder when it’s held to the protein-centric, carb-phobic standard of the day. Michael Pollan calls it “nutritionism,” the isolation of specific nutrients outside the context of whole foods.
However, thanks to emerging discoveries and a thorough analysis of the research that led to our misguided thinking to begin with, fat, particularly saturated fat, and cholesterol have been exonerated. “In the two decades since the NIH, the surgeon general, and the National Academy of Sciences first declared that all Americans should consume low-fat diets, the research has also failed to support the most critical aspect of this recommendation: that such diets will lead to a longer and healthier life,” writes science journalist Gary Taubes in his book Good Calories Bad Calories. “On the contrary, it has consistently indicated that these diets may cause more harm than good.”
This calls for a celebration. Finally, we can say goodbye to rubbery egg white omelets and dry chicken breasts in favor of a little more prosciutto and butter (in moderation, of course). Hooray!
However, while our science may have evolved, our recipes still need a little inspiration. So, dig up your great grandmother’s recipe cards, tie on an apron, and enjoy some braised artichokes with hollandaise. Conveniently, it also pairs nicely with a gin martini.
2 egg yolks
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons cold water
Pinch sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, divided
Melt five tablespoons of the butter in a ramekin. Set aside. In a small skillet, whisk the egg yolks until they’re no longer grainy. Add the lemon juice, water and salt. Whisk until thin and frothy. Turn the heat to low and cook until the yolks just begin to warm and thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in one tablespoon of cold butter. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter until the sauce is thick and rich. Serve immediately with artichokes or vegetable of your choice.
Image via Pamela Ellgen