What is Beef Tallow? Includes Recipe for Rendering Tallow!
|October 22, 2012||Posted by Lindsey G. under Fats|
In short, beef tallow is a rendered cooking fat made from the fat of a cow. Yes—beef fat. But saturated fat is awful right? There are many posts out there which explain why saturated fats are actually healthy (see this video which debunks the saturated fat myth in 2:35) so this post isn’t going to be about that. You can read more about whether saturated fat is healthy from Mark’s Daily Apple. This post is going to be about flavor and texture. Now that we don’t use vegetable oil for high heat cooking at home, I notice the smell of it. It has a very distinct aroma that doesn’t agree with me. And, when I eat these kinds of oils when I am out at a restaurant, I end up with a tight chest and a raspy cough reminiscent of my asthma attacks. Thankfully I don’t get a full blown asthma attack anymore but I avoid them all the same. The fact of the matter is, vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola) are most likely genetically modified and are highly refined with deodorizers added to cover up what would be a very rancid smell. I can now detect this rancid aroma and frankly it sets off alarm bells in my body.
I wanted to find a fat to use for frying and I would recommend coconut or palm oil but this can get pricey. To fry a batch of French fries you need quite a bit of oil. I thought about using schmaltz or chicken fat which I skim from the top of the chicken soup I make. But that just gives me a small amount. I wanted to get my hands on a large amount of fat for frying French fries and other items and I only had to look as far as my local dairy farm. I saw that they sold beef fat in 5 pound bags and that I could render this beef fat into tallow to use for frying. I was thrilled but also a bit apprehensive. How did I do this thing called ‘rendering’ and what if I messed it up? There were many different methods – wet and dry and in the end, I chose the method that seemed like it would be the easiest to clean up after – the wet method. We were pleasantly surprised after using beef tallow for frying. The fried items came out crispier and surprisingly light. They didn’t soak up the oil and fried up easily.
5 pounds of beef fat and trimmings
Water (see below for amount)
Take a nice sized pot, put about 2″ of water in the bottom. Put the whole 5 pound blob of fat in the pot and let it melt down on high heat. Turn it down to med/high when it starts to bubble and then continue to turn it down to low to keep it at a low simmer. After a few hours the water will evaporate leaving you with beautiful golden oil.
Take a stainless bowl, set a stainless colander on it, line with butter muslin or cheese cloth and pour the hot oil through it (I highly recommend wearing heating pads for this exercise!). The muslin will catch the fine particles of meat. I love to them pour this rendered oil into silicon ice cube trays. Put the trays in the fridge overnight and when cool, pop out the cubes of tallow and store in plastic containers in the freezer. I keep one container in the refrigerator of lard/tallow for cooking.
I will leave you with this…
Did you know that McDonald’s French Fries used to be fried in beef tallow up until 1990 when they switch to a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil? So they used to actually be somewhat healthy! Now they are just limp and tasteless to me. Here is a clip of Julia Child complaining about the taste of the French fries after the change over:
Photo credit – Pam Goussey