Are you going to eat that?
Whenever I buy and trim a big ol’ beef chuck roast to make stew, I am left with big ol’ pile of this:
So what to do with all that fat and gristle? Throw it out? NO! That’s my fat and gristle! I paid for it! And in these troubled economic times, I need every I you can get. No, the only answer to a big pile of beef fat is to render it.
The first step is to chop it into smaller pieces. When I did this I just used a knife to roughly chop the fat as is, but I would suggest a different method: put the meat in the freezer for a half hour or so to stiffen it up and then chop it, preferably with a food processor. The finer you chop the fat, the more liquid fat you’ll be able to render out.
That’s right, liquid fat. The chopped fat goes in a small saucepan with a little bit of water, over low heat. And then you go do something else, enjoying your brilliant economy and the wonderful beefy odors wafting about your house. This is meat potpourri at its finest.
After a few hours, it will start to look like this:
It’s done once the bits of meat are crispy and brown. In the pork fat rendering world these are known as cracklins. You can eat one once they’ve cooled; I am afraid to say that they are pretty delicious and guarantee an almost instant heart attack.
But enough about the crispy bits, what about that sweet golden fat? Strain/filter it to get rid of as many impurities as possible. I first poured the fat through a mesh strainer to remove the big meat chunks then decanted the fat off of the remaining small flecks of beef. The fat will solidify at room temperature or after a few minutes in the fridge.
And there you have it, beef suet! What to do with the stuff? Basically, you can use it like butter or shortening, or any other fat for that matter. I used some of it to brown the beef chunks for my stew (beef browned in its own fat is a beautiful thing) and the rest I cut into pie dough, which I used to make pasties with the leftover beef stew. And thus the circle of life was complete.