Beef Tallow – An Excellent Cooking Fat
My mother thinks I am crazy because I started cooking with beef tallow. She accepts what she has read in newspapers and magazines over the past few decades and thinks we should eliminate as much fat as possible from our diets. Beef tallow is rendered beef fat, so my cooking with it seems crazy to her. However, I adopted a diet that includes eating fat from healthy sources about 18 months ago and my health has been improving steadily. I am not afraid of fat, so when I learned from Dallas and Melissa Hartwig that beef tallow is a “best choice” for cooking, I decided to try it.
Our great grandparents cooked with rendered beef fat because it was available, cheap, and tasty. Scientists in our grandparent’s generation decided that everything about fat was bad and most people shifted to cooking with vegetable oils. However, a few people who follow traditional ways still cook with fat and they may be better off for it. Stephan Guyenet, Ph. D. explains, “Tallow is an extremely stable fat, due to its high degree of saturation (56%) and low level of polyunsaturated fatty acids (3%). This makes it ideal for deep frying. Until it was pressured to abandon suet (beef fat) in favor of hydrogenated vegetable oil around 1990, in part by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, McDonald’s used tallow in its deep fryers. Now, tallow is mostly fed to birds and feedlot cows… Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of vitamin D, similar to lard. Combined with its low omega-6 content and its balanced n-6/n-3 ratio, that puts it near the top of my list of cooking fats.” Paul Jaminet, Ph.D. and Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet, Ph.D. write, “I think I mentioned once that we’ve been cooking with beef fat a lot. This is a little healthier than plant oils, since it has more phospholipids, cholesterol, and usable nutrients, lacks plant toxins, and is low in polyunsaturated fat… Rendered beef fat stands up to high cooking temperatures, is more nutritious than plant oils, and tastes great.”
You can purchase Beef Tallow over the internet from U.S. Wellness Meats, but I decided to make my own. All you need is beef fat. My butcher gave me 5 pounds from his scrap barrel free when I explained that I wanted to render the fat into beef tallow. Two pounds of fat cooks down into enough beef tallow to last me 4 to 6 weeks, but fat keeps in the freezer just fine, so I am already prepared to make my next batch. The process is simple, but takes time.
Prep and Cook Time: 3 hours
Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut about 2 pounds of beef fat into small pieces with kitchen shears or a knife. Add fat pieces to a big Dutch oven and let cook covered for one hour. At the one hour mark, drain the liquid that has cooked out of the fat pieces into a glass container and then put the fat back in the oven to cook another hour. At the two hour mark, drain the liquid that has cooked out of the fat pieces into the glass container and then put the fat back to cook for another hour. At the three hour mark, drain the liquid that has cooked out of the fat pieces into a glass container. Load the fat that is left into a fine mesh strainer and use a big spoon to press as much of the remaining liquid out as you can. The liquid should be light yellow in color and the fat should have gradually turned from white to brown as it cooked. Store the liquid in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. After chilling overnight, the beef tallow should be firm and more white than yellow in color.
Notes: I keep my beef tallow in the refrigerator and use a fork to cut out a teaspoon or a tablespoon at a time to use in cooking.
Beef tallow splatters a little more than coconut oil when stir-frying vegetables, but not enough to cause a problem.
Tallow adds a hint of beef taste to food.
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