The Fat Kitchen: Rendering and Cooking with Fat

How to render, cure, and cook with lard, tallow, and poultry fat

| Winter 2019

The only real drawback to rendering your own fats is time. Regardless of the type of fat you’re working with, the process is pretty much the same. Chop the fat into small pieces (1-inch dice or smaller), put in a heavy pot, and add a small amount of water to prevent scorching until the fat begins to melt.

Step 1: Chop the fat, if necessary. With tallow and lard, it’s helpful if it’s very cold — even frozen.

Step 2: Transfer the chopped fat to a heavy pot, adding just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching.

Melt the fat over low to medium heat, stirring frequently; don’t let it bubble furiously. When the solid bits begin to color, begin removing and straining the fat through a fine-mesh strainer into storage containers. Ideally, the fat will be entirely neutral in taste, but the longer the melted fat remains with the solid golden or browned bits, the meatier the fat will taste. If your fat tastes too “porky” or “beefy” to you, it’s probably been allowed to sit with the browned bits for too long. So be vigilant and watch for browning.

Step 3: Put the pot over low heat, and ladle off the fat as it melts, straining it into a bowl. Don’t let the rendered fat sit on the browning bits, or it’ll pick up meaty flavors.

Step 4: Discard or feed the cracklings from tallow to pets. The cracklings from chicken and pork are delicious crisped in a skillet, seasoned with salt, and eaten.



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