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Got fat?

Maybe more a "Home Cooking" question, but maybe not. I routinely save duck fat for rendering when I get the chance. I've heard some people do that with chicken fat, and, of course, bacon fat.

Now I'm looking at quite a bit of beef fat that congealed on top of a beef stock (from meaty bones and shanks) after cooling, and I wonder why I always throw that out, and also pork fat apart from bacon?

Uses for various fats, or cautions?

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  1. That's tallow (the rendered fat of cattle or sheep is tallow; unrendered, it's suet). If it's from grass-fed beef, it's actually a "healthy" fat (you can even tell by looking - grain-fed animals give off white/off-white fat, while grass-fed fat has a more greenish-yellow color); if not, you should probably avoid too much if cholesterol is an issue. Traditionally used in mincemeat and savory pie crusts. Or for Yorkshire pudding or frying fish and chips.

    If you wish to purify it for longer keeping, btw, melt it and put it in a jar with some water; shake and refrigerate. Then, when hard, drain off the water and cut off the impurities along the edge that faced the meniscus of the water. The mixing with water helps to capture the impurities along the meniscus.

    1. I've started saving all my animal fats. I use beef fat for whenever I'm cooking beef. For example, yesterday I seared a steak. Butter is tasty but it burns. So beef fat. Makes sense in my mind. I also use it even if beef is not the star. I stir fried rice noodles with bean sprouts, onion, thai basil, and sliced beef. I used beef fat in the wok.

      A roux for a chicken soup? Chicken fat. Saute mirepoix for beans? Pork fat.

      1 Reply
      1. re: seamunky

        I also now save all of my fats and like you love to cook steak in tallow or saute veggies in it for beef soup or stew.

      2. I love frying red potatoes in duck fat for breakfast. My wife freaks out but I have read that it is a healthier fat than butter.

        1. Thanks for the tips!

          This time, I think I will try to make bird food for the hungry feathered things out there this cold winter.

          1. I save it and use it anywhere it seems like the flavor would work. When I skim it off of stock or stew, though, I usually try to use it fairly quickly or freeze it, since it typically contains some moisture or other impurities. With pure fat (bacon, rendered lard, schmaltz or duck fat) I just put it in the fridge, where it seems to last basically forever.

            1. More on the "cautions" side of things, could someone explain why botulism never seems to be a concern with saving animal fats? There are warnings everywhere about leaving things in oil for more than a few days, and being very careful about sterility if packing in oil long-term. Is it that there's not enough water in rendered fat for this to be a problem (I assume there are "particles" in home-rendered fat that would concern me)?

              3 Replies
              1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                Here's a link to an academic discussion:

                http://umaine.edu/publications/4385e/

                Has to do with acid and water balance, it seems. With traditional preparation of duck or goose confit, it appears that the long cooking process both removes moisture and creates a sterile environment. But traditional confit does not call for increasing natural acid level, and it isn't clear to me why the fat cap on top serves to effectively "can" the confit for long-term storage.

                It's possible that the fat cap is not perfect enough as a seal to give botulism the anaerobic environment it craves.

                1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                  If you purify it properly, that reduces the concern. See my previous comment on purifying rendered fats at home.

                  1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                    I'm not too concerned with it because I either obtain the fat after simmering a stock for hours on end or from rendering skins/fatty tissue for hours in the oven. I don't think much is surviving after that time. I then pour it into a clean glass jar and stick it in the fridge.

                    I don't worry about it because I'm not introducing new sources of bacteria like when you stick garlic, rosemary, herbs, lemons, etc. in oil. You'd usually use fresh items that were never cooked. I read that garlic is especially dangerous since botulism can be naturally found in the soil.

                    I'm not saying that my way is 100% safe and I'm not suggesting anyone do what I do. These are just my thoughts on the matter.

                  2. I keep the various fats (duck/goose/chicken, beef, pork, bacon) in Ziploc bags in the freezer.

                    Beef and pork fats are good for pastry. I also chop some up to add to ground beef/pork that I find too lean ;-)

                    Also, what I find saves some hassle is to trim off the excessive fat before cooking, to add directly to the Ziploc bags.

                    1. I save fat from bacon, chorizo, and ducks. I most jealously guard my duck fat, so it tends to accumulate in the freezer. As comforting as a drawer full of warm socks.

                      1. Go ahead and try using the rendered fat from other animals and see what you think.

                        I find animal fat not only very rich but greasy as well. Duck and goose fat work well with frying potatoes but beyond that it adds an unpleasant rich greasiness to the dish. But that's my particular reaction to it and yours may be quite different.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Roland Parker

                          Interesting point. I did once try using duck fat for a pie crust and found the crust to be acceptable but just too savory and rich for my taste. I haven't repeated that experiment.

                          Edit: Perhaps it would work with a quiche rather than the fruit pie I was making...

                            1. re: Bada Bing

                              There was a time when I refused to recognize "too rich" as a viable category! That was about 65 pounds ago, however; I've had to teach myself to think a bit differently, and stop defining "heaven" as a bowl of whipped cream and a spoon …

                            2. re: Roland Parker

                              Duck fat is fab for scrambled eggs. I often add a dab of butter to have both worlds to indulge in :-)

                              1. re: linguafood

                                Amen to duck fat and eggs!! I bought two pounds of it before Christmas, partly because I needed some for a cassoulet I was making and partly because I could afford the price (just over $25) and wanted to have some around, as it keeps almost eternally in the fridge. After using what I needed for the cassoulet I melted the rest; it filled a one-liter container exactly, and I find myself going to it frequently instead of reaching for the olive oil unless I'm cooking for the vegetarian Mrs. O too.

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  I have been using it regularly in scrambled eggs and frittata. It's quite nice.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Aha! I made myself a frittata yesterday and had it in the pan before I remembered the duck fat. Tomorrow …

                            3. I am not much on keeping fats except Duck fat and perhaps some of the layer of fat one might skim of a Pho ( very fragrant!).
                              But I bake my Christstollen with a 50:50 mixture of Lard and Butter. Makes for much better texture and taste than just straight butter.
                              Now my MIL years ago told me that her local ( local = small village in Germany) recipe for Stollen contained all the collected fats from various Chicken, Duck, Goose and such. We have tasted Stollen from that region years ago and it was really good!

                              1. I don't save cooked fats (i.e. from stocks, stews, soups) because they are usually tainted with impurities and fat-soluble flavors from the other ingredients that were included in the rendering. Instead I prefer to use fats that were rendered pure so as to unadulterate their flavor.

                                Right now I have a quart of duck trimmings waiting to be rendered into duck fat at some point this weekend. A quart and a half of saved bacon fat for sautees and frying. Suet for making pastry, although I've also rendered it for fries. There's lard of course for pretty much everything and lamb fat for Middle Eastern recipes.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JungMann

                                  Wow. Recalling my thread title: you definitely got fat!