The word is slowly getting out that some saturated fats are actually good for you, and that what may be making people overweight is processed carbohydrates. In fact many healthy cultures around the world have animal-based fat as a key component of their diets. The trick is to make sure the animal was raised the way nature intended, eating the food it was intended to eat. In the case of beef, that means finding a source of 100% grass-fed beef. I’m lucky enough to have a number of purveyors of grass-fed beef here in my area.
While I cannot enjoy much animal fat in the form of dairy, I can use tallow in much the same way as ghee or butter. I find that tallow imparts a pleasant slightly beef broth or almost buttery taste to food. I have even substituted part of the butter in baking recipes with tallow and not heard any complaints from the eaters! It also happens to be quite easy to render and relatively cheap compared to the cost of other fats like grass-fed butter or coconut oil.
Don’t get me wrong, if I could eat a pat of butter everyday I would. In the meantime I’m enjoying discovering cooking with tallow. It helps saute vegetables or fry up eggs quite nicely. For anyone concerned about avoiding seed oils, cooking fats like tallow or lard are great choices. I typically render fats twice a year, once with lard and once with tallow. The recipe below is from Mark’s Daily Apple and would also apply to rendering lard.
DRY RENDERING TALLOW
- 1-2 lbs beef suet or fat (from the kidney area if you like an end product with a more buttery consistency)
- a food processor
- a fine mesh strainer or colander
- paper towels/cheesecloth
- several wide-mouth glass jars (such as pint canning jars) for storing the tallow
- an oven safe dish which can hold all the tallow
1. Staring with a half-thawed chunks of fat, cut out all the meat and red bloody parts. Cut the remaining lovely white fat into inch sized cubes. Then put the cubes in the freezer for several hours to harden them up again.
2. Preheat the oven to 250°F. When the cubes are the consistency of cold butter, place them in the food processor. Grind until the fat is shredded into small pieces like taco meat. Doing this helps maximize the amount of fat you can render out of the suet and shortens the rendering time.
3. Place the shredded fat into the dish and melt in the oven for about 2 hours. Check periodically. When the fat is fully melted and the cracklins (small bits of fat tissue which turn brown) are toasted, pull the dish out of the oven. Your kitchen should smell like a delicious burger or beef soup at this point.
4. Pour the fat through a fine mesh strainer into your jar(s). A colander lined with paper towels or cheesecloth will also work. Pour the filtered tallow into your glass storage jar(s). Store in the fridge or freezer. Your tallow should have a slightly yellow tint.
- I keep my tallow chilled in the fridge and have used it up to 8 months later. For longer storage you might want to consider freezing it.
- Another way to store the tallow is to harden it in small muffin tins. Pop these pucks into a freezer container and you can pull out only what you need for the short-term.
- You can eat the cracklins. They are like a beef version of bacon bits. Add some salt and you just might think they are better than potato chips.
- For other rendering options using the stove top or the slow cooker, follow these great instructions by blogger Cheeseslave.
- For clean up, wipe up as much as you can with rags or paper towels as this stuff can clog up your drains if too much finds its way down the sink.