I confess to being utterly disgusted by gross quantities of fat, grease, or fast food. It makes me feel very much like taking a shower and running several miles (not that I could run several miles if I tried) and then taking another shower — perhaps even remember to exfoliate. Nah.
Anyway, rendering fat cut from beef, a.k.a rendering beef tallow, is a very antiquated activity. Our ancestors rendered fat in their very own kitchens and backyards. Yep. Why? For one thing, it’s really nice not to waste any part of a slaughtered animal. After all, it did die so that we could enjoy that nice juicy steak — why not honor it by making sure that nothing is wasted? Why indeed? Especially when we can make some very useful stuff called soap that can be used in the shower that follows the shiver that follows the eying of mass quantities of fat. How about that for some stream of logic?
So this is the first entry in a several part series where I will walk you through rendering beef tallow, making old fashioned soap, and making beef scrapple or panhas. Keep in mind that all of this can be done with pork fat but there is no pork allowed in our home. None.
The first step is to make friends with your local butcher and ask him/her to save the trimmings of fat from the steaks and cuts of beef that come in. My butcher does not charge me for this service at all and I am forever grateful. I think I’ll give him a bar of soap tomorrow. In fact, I may just give one of you a bar of soap for part two of this post. Because I like you.
Back to the fat. You’ll need to gather a large pot, sieve, and cheese cloth. Set them up so that you can drain the fat into the pot. Now grind up the fat or have someone else do it because it is sort of gross. **Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!** You can also use a food processor. I’m a traditionalist, though, and decided to pay homage to the pioneers of yesteryear by cranking away with a cast iron meat grinder. And yes, my arm is still very tired. I can only nod to the pioneers. I cannot wave.
Would you just look at that begging? For shame!
Take the ground trimmings and put them in a kettle with 1 Tbsp of salt per pound of trimmings and cover with water. Let this mixture slow cook on low heat until all that remains is a gray bubbling brew with gray hamburger meat floating in it. Be sure that you keep the fan on above the stove and some scented candles might be a nice touch. Rendering fat is not a fragrant form of cooking.
Pour the contents of the kettle into the sieve which is lined with cheese cloth and let it strain out. The little brown bits of meat will be used to make the panhas. Do not throw them away. If you have lots of trimming to process still — refill your kettle with water, salt, and ground trimmings. Continue processing until all is finished. Now refrigerate the drippings.
To be continued…