I have always found something special about being able to figure out how to make my own ingredients, instead of just my own meals. It’s easy to make cookies, or pies, or dressings, but how about making the ingredients that go into the recipes themselves? It brings me a warm fuzzy feeling when I drop a slice of homemade butter into a pan instead of butter I bought at the store, or making pasta from noodles that started out as a pile of flour only 30 minutes before.
Today, I will show you how to make another special ingredient: rendered beef tallow. If you don’t know what tallow is, think of it like vegetable shortening, or something that can be turned into a frying oil with a very high smoke point, that will also impart some great flavor into the food. Tallow is what they used to fry your french fries in, before it became an unfairly- attacked cooking ingredient. Rendering is what the process is called when you turn a hard fat into a liquid fat, “cooking” away all the parts of the fat that can’t be reduced to a liquid. The properties in tallow also make for fluffier biscuits and softer cakes than vegetable shortening could ever hope to compete with. Here’s how it’s done.
First, you will need to procure some beef suet. Suet is the white, cloudy fat deposits that are present around the cow’s kidneys. You can make tallow with any fat, but the less contact it has with the meat of the animal, the better, as you will have to spend a lot of time cutting away the meat from the fat before rendering. The great part about suet is that you can get it for about $1.50/lb at the grocery store or butcher shop.