Rendered Fat is a superior fat that can be used to sear meats, create gravies and add flavor without adding in extra fat from other sources.
If you’re not in the habit of Rendering Fat. I hope this post will convince you to start doing so or at least start experimenting with it if you are not already. This alone can up your Kitchen Game producing dishes that just have that extra touch.
Rendered Fat Q&A
What does it mean to render the fat
To render the fat means to cook the fat or a fatty piece of meat over medium to medium-low heat which causes the Fat to dissolve or transform into a liquid or oil.
There is rendering fat for the Fat and there is rendering fat as a by-product of cooking. Searing a Steak is rendering fat, Cooking Bacon or a Roast renders fat. Even simmering Ribs or other cuts of fatty meat is rendering fat.
There is also a Dry and Wet rending. Dry involves just the fat cooked over medium-low heat. While wet includes water.
With the Wet method, you may have to simmer longer until all the water has evaporated else the rendered fat will contain some water and not solidify as much. This is also what causes rendered fat to go bad quicker.
How do you know if your fat is rendered
You’ll know if the fat is rendering by seeing that there is a liquid oil in the pan from the fat dissolving or transforming from a solid-state to a liquid state.
The Pieces of Fat will also shrink as they release the fats and start to brown and crisp.
What is rendered Chicken Fat
Rendered Chicken Fat also called Schmaltz is the Process of converting Chicken Skin and Fat into Liquid Fat.
The Trimmings are chopped into small pieces and cooked in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. This causes the trimmings to release the fat and crisp.
These crispy bits of fat are called Crackling and the Fat that has been transformed is Rendered Chicken Fat. This is also applicable to any bird such as Turkey & Duck.
What is rendered fat used for
Any place where Oil is used can be substituted with Rendered Fat to add additional and more savory flavors.
It is used in Gravies, Sauteing Vegetables, Searing Meats, Soups & Stews, cook and browning Rice or Pasta, and many other uses.
French Fries deep-fried in Beef Fat or Tallow is phenomenal. The old McDonald’s Fries were deep-fried in Tallow and were superior in taste. They stopped in the 1990s and converted to Vegetable Oil.
Old style KFC was Deep Fried in Lard. The gravy had lard as well.
Popeye’s fries their chicken in Lard or a mix of Soy bean oil and beef tallow.
Fish and Chips deep fried in lard offers superior taste.
Pretty much anything deep fried in Animal fats just taste better.
How Long Does Rendered fat Last
It can last in the fridge up to 1 year and less likely to go rancid if stored in the Fridge. It can also be frozen for even longer. Some state that it can be stored indefinitely. I have always used it up within the year mark with no issues.
Most times I just freeze the Fat Trimmings and use it on demand. This has the added benefit of creating a fond when rendering the fat that can be picked up and used in the dish to add flavor.
How do you get Rendered Fat
Chop the fat into small pieces so that the fat can render out more easily. Place into a skillet over medium to medium-low heat and cook until the Fat has been released and the Crackling is Golden brown and crisp. Stir every so often for even browning.
Strain the Crackling out and chop fine to include with the dish or discard.
Slow Cooker or Oven
Another way is to slow cook the fat until it renders out or to cook in the oven at 250 F to render the fat. This method is good for doing large batches.
For Stock Pot or simmered meats. Bring to boil and then simmer any fatty pieces of meat with enough water to cover by an inch or so. Remove from the heat and let cool and then refrigerate overnight.
The next day the Fat will have solidified on the top while the meat is still submerged in the water. Scoop off this fat and briefly cook it in a pan to ensure all the water is cooked out. Allow to cool and refrigerate.
The added benefit of this method is that since the meat stayed in the pot and submerged, it softens the meat which is desirable for things like Short Ribs, Stewing meats, or Soups.
Is Rendered Fat Healthy
The thing that sticks out to me is that Rendered Fat Contains EPA, DHA, and ARA. Any Plant or Seed Derived Oils do not contain these and they are much sought after by the Brain and beneficial to the heart. These exist only in animal Fats, Fatty Fish, Eggs, and Algae.
We even have a mechanism that converts ALA into EPA and DHA. Albeit not very efficiently. An external source is much needed on a regular basis. Especially here in the western diet where most people do not get their daily value and are deficient.
Adding Rendered Fat on a regular basis is an excellent way not only for the added value of Richness and Taste but health benefits as well. There are growing studies showing that previously held beliefs may be incorrect.
Reasons for using Rendered Fat
Trimming the excess fat from meats and rendering it into fat is a technique that can add a ton of flavor to the dish. Here are a few reasons why you might want to incorporate rendering fat.
Eliminating excess fat
Not introducing excess fat. You are using the Natural Fat already present with the meat but processing it differently so that it can be used the same as adding in extra fat.
Superior Taste and mouthfeel.
Excellent for Searing at just the right temp and right amount of fat for the given meat.
Rendering the Fat creates a fond that can be lifted up with Sauteed Vegetables or Liquids adding more Flavor.
Creation of Crackling which can be added to dishes to enhance the flavor as well. This is most known in Old Style KFC Gravy.
While not as readily available as Oils the trade-off is worth it. Especially when it can be chopped into very small pieces so the fat renders quickly and Freeze.
Whenever you need some rendered fat, you can cook this straight from frozen with a lid for the first few minutes to help thaw. After that, cook over medium heat to render the fat and create crackling.
Can be used anywhere you typically would use Oils and include in things like Pie Crusts, Biscuits, Gravies in either Liquid form or cooled and solidified like lard or frozen and chopped fine to include in meat mixes.
Animal Fats contains EPA, DHA, and ARA. Any Plant or Seed Derived Oils do not contain these.
Perfect amount of fat. You’re not adding in any extra fat. Instead you are using the fat already present in the meat.
This is usually the perfect amount of fat for the specific cut of meat. Not only are you using less fat by not adding additional fat, but you are using the perfect amount and a Fat that offers superior taste and function. It’s all-around better.
Cuts down cost in buying Plant-based Oils for frying. You don’t need to buy as much if you are rendering the fat from Meat that is already purchased.
Most likely you buy oils for this purpose and they do have their place. It’s just not needed to the extent that it is used today, especially in Searing, Gravies, Roasting, or Sauteing Vegetables. All of which can be done with Animal fats.
Saving the Fat
Whenever you purchase any meats, the fat trimmings that you would typically trim and throw away or leave and include with the meat can be saved in the freezer for moments when you need to sear or add extra flavor into dishes.
I always trim down Pork Loins, Ribs, Steak, Chicken, and other meats to either freeze in the fridge or use right away to render fat.
The most simplistic version of rendered fat that is well known is saving Bacon Grease. Once the bacon is cooked you save the grease and use it in Roasted or Broiled Potatoes, Sauteing Vegetables, Cooking Eggs, Gravies, or anywhere you want the taste of Bacon added.
Storing the Fat
Even if you decide to cook up a big batch, rendering out cups of Fat from say a big Slab of Fat from a Pork Loin. This can be cooled and then frozen and used whenever needed.
So either freezing the fat and then render or render and then freeze either way is fine. Although I do prefer to freeze the fat and then render it out which also creates a fond that can be incorporated into the dish.
Although a very convenient way of doing this is to render your choice of fat and then allow it to cool. Place it into ice cube trays to freeze. Once frozen, empty them out into a Zip Loc bag that you keep frozen for the different types of rendered fat (Pork, Chicken, Beef, and so on).
Then when you need some already rendered fat, it’s right there, already prepared and ready to go.
Rendering the Fat
Rendering the Fat is actually quite easy. You can make the whole process faster by chopping the fat into small pieces. This causes it to render the fat more quickly and efficiently.
Simply place into a skillet or pan over medium heat and cook until the fat crisps up and browns. Mix every so often so you get the most out of rendering the fat.
That’s pretty much it. The Crackling can be discarded or chopped fine to include with the dish adding more flavor.
With the Rendered fat in the Pan, you can use this to Saute Vegetables or add in a Liquid to pick up the fond and incorporate into the final dish.
If using it with Flour to create a roux for Gravies, then allow the fat to cool down a bit before adding the flour. This makes top-notch gravies. This is why the drippings from a roast and such are used with gravies. It just offers a better taste and uses up everything with no waste.
There are other methods as well depending on the desired outcome and efficiency. If making a large batch then you may want to render the fat in a slow cooker or in the oven at 250 F for a few hours until all the fat is rendered.
If you are also creating stewed meat or short ribs. Then simmering until the meat is done and cooling in the fridge overnight will create a solid layer of fat that forms at the top that you can scoop out and use.
I did this once with Burgers. I froze the fat and Chopped it into small pieces to add to the Burger mix. This resulted in some pretty amazing burgers.
If rendering the fat with water. Sometimes the Rendered Fat will hold unto water as well. This can be remedied by simmering the fat until all the water has evaporated leaving only fat.
Searing with Rendered Fat
Searing Meat happens anywhere from 300 F – 450 F. From 450 F and onward you risk ruining the meat.
There are however very specific temps for specific meats that yield the best results and they so happen to be the smoke point of the fat in the specific type of meat you are using.
For example, the perfect temp for Searing chicken is 375 F or a tad below this is also the smoke point of Chicken Fat.
For Beef it is 400 F, this is also the smoke point of beef fat.
You get the idea. You can actually use the Fat and how it is cooking to tell you as a visual clue if you are on the peak of a good sear or not. This is how I do it at least and it works really well for me.
The rendered fat produced will often be the correct amount for searing the specific meat as well as being an excellent tell if you are producing a good sear. Offering a visual clue as well as flavor that would not be achieved with plant-based derived oils.
The added benefit of rendering the fat is that when it is ready, the pan has had sufficient time to heat up and is now prime for searing. Just add in the meat and sear.
Eventually, the fat can get too hot and start to smoke. Remedy this by removing the pan for 30 seconds or so to cool slightly and return back to the heat. This is keeping the rendered fat at the highest possible heat without destroying the flavor by heating the Fat too much and giving you the best possible sear. You want just before the smoke point and to maintains this.
Rendering the fat allows you to extract the perfect amount of fat from a specific meat. Not only do you get the right amount of fat but the whole process of rendering the fat gives ample time for the pan to heat up. Just when the Fat is done rendering, the Pan is prime for Searing. The Final synchronicity of it all is that you can actually use the rendered Fat as a visual clue to where you are at with the sear temp.
If it starts to smoke you’re too hot. The whole dance is teetering at that smoke point, not quite reaching it but right at the tip will give you an exceptional Sear and no sticking.
Remove from the heat for a few seconds to drop the temp and move the fat around. Back on the heat and repeat until a good sear is achieved. That’s all there is to it.