Beef tallow is a great tasting fat that is stable even at high temperatures and can be used for cooking or grilling. Turn leftover beef fat into homemade beef tallow. Perfect for homemade roasting and roasting recipes, as well as keeping smoked breast moist and juicy.
You’ve probably heard of beef tallow before, but you probably don’t associate it with modern cuisine. Granted, it sounds like something straight out of a Julia Child recipe, but you might be surprised to know it’s making a big comeback.
First made hundreds of years ago when no part of an animal was wasted, beef tallow was used not only as cooking oil but also in candles and soaps. It remained popular until World War II, after which vegetable oils for cooking became cheaper and synthetic oils for the cosmetics industry were produced.
With award-winning chefs putting it back on their menus and high-fat diet plans championing it, beef tallow is back!
What is beef tallow?
Beef tallow is the fat derived from various cuts of beef. The fats that flow out of the meat during cooking are stored and allowed to congeal. The set fat then goes through a processing process(reheated and filtered to remove impurities) to create beef tallow.
Beef tallow is made through a process called rendering. As a culinary term, rendering means cooking the fat. With beef tallow, the fats are liquefied(melted by heat) and clarified(impurities are filtered out) so they can be stored and used for other culinary purposes.
You might expect suet to taste like meat, but that’s not really the case. While the flavor is delicious and helps carry extra “depth” to foods when used as a cooking medium, it is not sweet in the strong sense. You can add more flavor by adding herbs and spices to the mixture as you tear.
The rhetoric that subtle fats like tallow are unhealthy has long led many people to turn to cheaper, “healthier” oils such as those made from rapeseed. However, we now know that many of these “healthier” vegetable oils are high in multi-persistent fats, which can lead to a variety of health problems.
Modern science now shows that animal fats like beef tallow have a variety of benefits, including:
- It’s high in CLA(conjugated linoleic acid), which has several health benefits including being anti-inflammatory and good for the immune system.
- Contains vitamins A, D, K and E as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Our bodies absorb the nutrients in sebum more easily, and the fats that linger there can trigger your body’s fat burning response.
While both tallow and lard are the same in that they are converted to fat, the big difference is in the animals they come from.
Tallow comes from beef and lard is made from pork fat. Both have the same function if used as cooking fat, but lard has a lower smoke point(374°F/190°C versus 400°F/205°C for beef tallow) and they have a distinct difference in flavor. Lard is tasteless as sold, so it works well in baked goods and pastries with sweet fillings or flavors, while beef tallow has a salty taste.
Tallow is the type of hard fat that surrounds the kidneys of animals. It differs from muscle fat in that it contains higher levels of a substance called stearin, which makes it drier and more crumbly. It can be melted into tallow, but is also a cooking ingredient in its own right.
Tallow used to be a popular ingredient in traditional recipes because it has a higher melting point than many other fats, making it a great way to add “texture” to dishes while cooking. The higher melting point means that the surrounding ingredients have already started to solidify before the tallow reaches its melting temperature: once it melts, it leaves a void in the dough, resulting in a spongy texture.
Use for beef tallow
Beef tallow can be used as an alternative to regular vegetable oils and vegetable fat. Because beef tallow has a very high smoke point(400°F/205°C), it is ideal for frying and grilling foods; Due to its high melting point, it is also ideal for frying.
There is a particular tendency in the smoking community to add beef tallow to brisket to prevent it from drying out during the long cooking process, without upsetting the balance of flavor(since it is a meat by-product).
The tallow can be coated onto the paper or thin foil that the brisket is wrapped in, or even injected directly into the meat.
Although traditionally used in cooking, beef tallow can also be used as an ingredient in the manufacture of soaps, candles, balms and ointments, and as an industrial lubricant for the metal, leather and wood industries.
Where to buy beef tallow
You won’t find beef tallow as easily in supermarkets as lard, butchers are more likely to stock it(since it’s a direct by-product of the slaughtering process), and as with most things today, you can of course Search for it on Amazon.
If YOU are using a recipe that calls for beef tallow but don’t have one on hand(or don’t have the time or inclination to make it yourself), YOU can substitute lard, chicken fat, butter, or shortening.
If you are looking for a vegan alternative or a substitute for beef tallow, you can use a vegetable oil.
How to make homemade beef tallow
Making your own beef tallow is a great way to get the most out of your meat—it’s easy and only requires a few tools and items you probably already have on hand in your kitchen.
- Stockpot – you want something big enough to hold all of your ingredients, plus a little extra room(we don’t want a splatter of hot grease)
- Sieve – The finer the sieve, the better; We want to catch any large pieces of meat as well as any other small debris.
- Cheesecloth: Using a cheesecloth to strain is one of the best ways to properly strain those last few rounds of impurities.
- Funnel – The last thing we want to do is spill our delicious suet when we get to the decanting phase, so using a funnel is a must.
- Mason Jar – When choosing a jar to store your suet, choose one with a wide opening. Makes it easier to pour out the liquid sebum and take out the hardened sebum.
How to make beef tallow
- Add Your Beef Fat to Your Pot – Select to remove as much of the beef from the fat as possible and cut into small pieces before adding to your pot. This will help him give up faster.
- Simmering: Like hot smoking, extracting tallow is a “low and slow” process. Too much heat will cause the fat to brown and affect the flavor. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and stir the mixture.
- Strain the tallow to remove large chunks of meat – Remove the pot from the heat and pour the runny tallow through the strainer into a spare heat-safe container to remove any chunks of meat.
- Strain the tallow back through the cheesecloth: Strain the tallow back through the cheesecloth to remove more impurities. We strain the mixture twice because the impurities hidden in it can cause the tallow to spoil.
- Store your tallow: When you’ve finished sifting your tallow, you can transfer it to your container. It remains liquid until fully achieved. Once is is solid and white. Beef tallow should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Homemade beef tallow will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months, as long as it’s properly strained to remove impurities and stored in an airtight container. It is also possible to freeze beef tallow, it can be kept in the freezer for about a year but can suffer freezer burn if stored improperly.