Using Animal Fat in the Kitchen

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Animal Fat in the Kitchen

A staple in our kitchen, and my go to secret ingredient when something needs a bit of a kick is my jar of Fabulous Fat.

I know that animal fat has gained a reputation for being a bad guy in the standard diet, and that many claim it is something that should be avoided at all costs.

However, I personally feel that fat rendered from organic free range meats can actually be beneficial and I do not have a problem using it in moderation.

Here’s how we collect and use it:

1.  After browning or cooking, pour off the fat into a pint sized glass jar, straining the drippings.

2. Don’t worry about separating the bacon fat from the beef, the chicken from the lamb.  Allowing them all to mingle and marry together creates a wonderful flavor.  In his cookbook The Farm , Ian Knauer recommends placing the jar in warm water every other week or so to allow the fats to better blend.  I have to confess that I rarely remember to do this and just use it as is.

3. Use a tablespoon here and there for browning and sauteing meat, onion, vegetables, or for roasting potatoes.

Use to finish a dish such as roasted vegetables, or add a dallop to a pot of hot soup to give a rich flavor.

Husbie likes to smear a bit on hamburger buns before toasting and adding his burger. He mentioned that I should let you know though that fat is flammable.  We use a toaster oven and watch it carefully.  I would not advise slathering a bun in fat and then sticking it in a pop up toaster.

4. Take care not to let the fat smoke when using it in food preparation.

5. Keep refrigerated.  If used often the fat should not turn rancid and will keep indefinitely.  Do smell it before each use to make sure though.

Note:  I make considerable effort to use only the fat that comes from grass fed, free range animals.   Fat rendered from grass fed cows contains the right proportions of omega 3 and omega 6, while pork fat from pastured pigs can be an excellent source of Vitamin D.

You can read more about my thoughts on fat here in a post on making your own butter.

I also recommend the book Nourishing Traditions which will give much more information on good fats in greater detail.

Also, come back on Tuesday when I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Traditional Foods.

Animal Fat

How to you feel about using animal fat in your cooking? 

What sorts of fat do you use and what kinds to you avoid?

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The author of this cookbook also discusses the use of fat, as well as offering some amazing seasonal recipes. It is a favorite in our kitchen.

…and here is a link to Nourishing Traditions which will give much more detailed info on good fats in the diet.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read more about that here in our disclaimer

You can find this post and others like it linked to: The Homestead Barn Hop, Homemade Mondays, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, The HomeAcre Hop, Tutorials Tips and Tidbits, From the Farm Fridays, The Modern Homesteaders Hop

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Comments

Using Animal Fat in the Kitchen — 29 Comments

  1. Hi Jenny,
    I always ask for the lard when I place my order for a pig. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any pasture raised pigs in our area, so I know that lard isn’t as good for us. Most of the lard goes to my parents’ kitchen, where my Dad makes some fabulous pies…mostly to take to potlucks and friends. :)

    I also save the fat from cooking. If I don’t use it up fast enough, a little is added to the dog’s food dish. He’s a fan. :)

    • I don’t know of pasture raised pigs in my area either Lisa. We look forward to the day when we can maybe try raising our own. Meanwhile I’ve ordered some pork chops from US Wellness meats that were amazing and noticed that they have lard, already rendered. I may give theirs a try. The last time I tried to render my own it still had a piggy taste and wasn’t ideal for pastries (which is where I’d really like to use it)

  2. Lisa Lynn, your comment gave my brain a much-needed wake-up call! I’ve been buying local range-fed beef in bulk, but forgot all about asking our butcher to save the suet for me. I just got a package of suet from my grocery store butcher yesterday, but didn’t “connect the dots” until I read your comment. (Duh!) Of course, the grocery store suet isn’t from range-fed animals, so we’ll just use it for feeding our over-wintering birds. Perhaps my bulk-meat butcher has some good fat on hand (I bet he does). Thanks again to you both!

  3. Jenny–
    We have a little fat jar by our stove too! It’s mostly bacon fat though–I hadn’t thought about saving other fats with it.

    I agree that animal fats from naturally raised livestock are the best fats we can eat. I use chicken fat for baking and yesterday I rendered some of the lard from our pigs.This year we will have beef suet too. So much GOOD fat!

    Marie

    • Marie I hadn’t thought about it either until I read about it in this cookbook. It really does have a nice flavor and is great for sauteeing or just adding that little bit of umph to something that is lacking.

  4. We tried using lard from geese (store bought) once and it smelled up the whole house. It was awful and I had to throw out the food we were cooking. Is this just a goose fat thing?
    Now I just stick to a good olive oil and real unsalted butter.

    • Kelly I have not used goose fat before so I can’t really help you there. The only thing I can think of is that if it was smoking the temperature it was probably too hot. I do though want to try baking with goose fat sometime as I’ve heard it is great for pastries. Olive oil and butter are my favorites too. I love the mild flavor. My husband is the one who really likes this kind of fat.

  5. Jenny, being raised on a small farm in the 40′s-50′s I am used to using animal fat. in fact, I buy pork fat and render it out two or three times a year. This year we are raising our own pig. He is too small for butchering this fall but he will be ready year. I am a big fan of the cooking shows and all of the chefs talk about animal fat being healthier to eat than the processed product.

    • Good morning Joyce! :) We’d love to raise a pig, not just for the pork, but I would really like to have that fat again, especially the leaf lard for baking. I hope that someday you’ll record your memoirs. I’d love to read them.

  6. Pingback: Monday Miscellany #4 | Miss Informed | In Pursuit of Book Learnin'

  7. I use pork fat to cook with mostly. I love it. Is there anything that tastes better than fried chicken that has been deep fried in lard??

    • It tastes really good! Adds a lot of flavor. Thank you so much for adding us to your post. :)

  8. I will be the contrarian here. I understand where you’re coming from. I was raised on bacon and a can by the stove full of lard. Now, however, that has changed. I have a pig. In my backyard. He’s my pet. Just like my dog. No lard (or bacon or pork or carnitas or whatever) will grace us here. I’m sure we’re missing out on the good tastes, but he’s my pet. He’s smart, he’s empathetic. I’ll need to make do with olive oil, I guess :-)

      • Joan, have ever tried coconut oil? It’s a very healthful saturated fat with many uses — both internal and external — and it’s highly resistant to oxidation. We buy it by the gallon (it’s cheaper that way).

  9. Do you use lard in desserts? I’ve tried baking with it before but it yielded a savory flavor that was awful in dessert baking. Now it was store bought, so I recognize that’s a poor test subject. But I’m just assuming from my past experience with scratch cooking, that anything “real” usually has a better, stronger flavor. I’ve just settled on butter, coconut oil, or olive oil for the time being.

    • Bethany the lard that I used I rendered myself and it had that savory flavor you are talking about. I may have gotten it too hot? I did use it a few times for biscuits that I served with cooked greens. The flavor was ok, but the texture was amazing. I have heard that leaf lard rendered from the fat around the kidneys doesn’t have a strong taste and is the best for baking. I located a source. Once. But I haven’t had the time to relocate it, order it, and render it to see for myself. For the time being I use butter and coconut oil for baking, and the lard for browning veg or meat.

  10. I enjoyed reading this post , especially because it is refreshing to read of all the good things our grandparents used when preparing meals for their families that have been villainized in these modern times. I have always kept bacon drippings and some beef & poultry fat for frying eggs, or as the basis for soups and gravies. You really can’t duplicate them for taste. Thank-you !