You'll never, ever guess what we did this week.
Okay, you might guess if you follow me on Facebook. But otherwise, I bet you'll never guess. So I suppose I ought to just come out and tell you.
We rendered tallow.
You know what beef tallow is, right? It is to cows what lard is to pigs. It's a very stable fat, which makes it great for frying. Tallow and lard are also traditionally used in pie crusts and other pastries (as well as butter, of course). When sourced from healthy, pastured animals they are a great source of health benefits. Julia Child is recalled to have said that back when McDonald's used tallow to prepare their french fries, they were surprisingly good. But after they changed to "healthier" oils, not so much.
When it comes to rendering beef tallow at home,I got the idea HERE, and we ran with it. When we were getting our grassfed beef for this year, we had the option of receiving fat as well. When my husband asked, I answered with a very enthusiastic "Yes!"
It's a sure sign you're a food geek when you're super excited about two bags of beef fat in your refrigerator.
The process is simple: trim the fat, cut up the fat, and then very, very slowly melt the fat. I used my slow cooker on warm and low settings. After it's melted down, strain and cool it. When it's hot, it will be translucent. When cool, it will be solid.
I've been asked approximately 600 times (or something like that) what I'll use my tallow for. And no, I'm not planning to make soap or candles with it, though many people do. Most of our rendered beefy goodness will be used for food! I'm planning to use it for french fries and making tortilla chips. I cooked quesadillas in a little tallow last night, and I think it's safe to say I will never be the same (I'd always used olive oil before, which has a fairly low smoke point - not good for high heat! Besides, they were indefinably yummier this way). I'd like to try making pastry with it too, and see how my particular tallow from my particular animal works in that situation.
So far I've used it in cooking several different was: cooking eggs, roasting red potatoes, and frying quesadillas. Delicious all around, I tell you.
There is one other thing I'll use my tallow. Stay with me now; this may stun some of you. Last night I found a recipe for tallow body balm. Apparently it's fabulous for the skin. And check it out: they even sell it at $13 for 2 oz. on THIS website. The testimonials are amazing. I used some of my homemade lavender-scented balm this morning, and my skin feels so supple and soft. Astounding. Who would've thought?
Tallow. Simple and natural. A delicious way to get the fats our bodies need!