Beef tallow has been a versatile substance for centuries, employed in candle making, soap production, and even skincare. However, it is most renowned for its role as a cooking fat. While it has long been utilized in barbecuing, it wasn’t until February 2021 that tallow exploded onto the scene as the secret to perfect Texas brisket. YouTube became flooded with videos showcasing techniques for making tallow and utilizing it to enhance the flavor and tenderness of brisket, whether by applying it to butcher paper, pouring it over the meat, or injecting it directly. Some even suggested that tallow could elevate the cooking results of lower-quality brisket grades.
Among barbecue enthusiasts, the primary application for beef tallow is creating moist, succulent brisket. Although readily available in select supermarkets and online stores, you can easily produce tallow at home using the fat scraps from a beef brisket.
Video: How to Make Beef Tallow Using Brisket Fat
In this video, I’ll share the process I followed to make beef tallow using a Dutch oven in my kitchen oven. If you have space in your smoker, you can even make tallow while smoking a brisket, imparting a delightful smoky flavor to the rendered fat. Unfortunately, in my case, I was already cooking two briskets in my 18.5″ WSM, leaving no room for tallow. As a result, I rendered the fat in the oven the night before smoking the briskets.
Rendering the Tallow
Start by removing any meat remnants from the fat and cutting any large chunks into 1″ pieces. Render the fat at a temperature of 225-250°F for approximately four hours. If you’re using your kitchen oven, simply place the fat in an uncovered Dutch oven and let the magic happen!
If you have a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, cook the brisket on the top cooking grate while rendering the fat scraps in a disposable foil pan on the bottom grate. To prevent burning, double up on disposable pans and place crumpled foil balls between them to create an air-insulated gap.
For smokers with a wide cooking grate, such as pellet smokers or stick-burning pits, you can place the disposable pan next to the brisket on the grate.
Straining the Tallow
Depending on your intended usage and desired shelf life, you may want to strain the tallow to remove any accumulated meat juices. If you were meticulous about trimming meat from the fat during rendering in your kitchen oven, the resulting tallow will be free of meat juices. To eliminate any fine particles, pour the liquid tallow through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a bowl, then transfer it to an airtight jar. If you have a large funnel, lining it with cheesecloth will allow you to pour the liquid directly into the jar.
If you rendered the fat in your smoker using a pan beneath the brisket, you will have a mixture of liquid tallow and meat juices. This can be used as-is for wrapping the brisket during the cooking process or poured over the meat before slicing. However, if you plan to store the tallow for an extended period, it is advisable to remove the meat juices. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a bowl to remove any particulate, then refrigerate the bowl. The tallow will solidify on top while the meat juices settle at the bottom. Carefully remove the tallow from the bowl, discarding the meat juices. You can use these juices to enhance the flavor of leftover brisket or incorporate them into a barbecue sauce recipe. Finally, warm the tallow and funnel it into an airtight jar for long-term storage.
Storing the Tallow
According to Tru Beef Organic, cooled and solidified beef tallow can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature in your pantry for up to a year without spoiling. For even longer shelf life, refrigeration is recommended, and freezing ensures the tallow stays fresh indefinitely.
If you open a stored batch of tallow and notice any signs of separation, simply give it a good stir before use.
Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ is a great place to explore appetizing ways to use your homemade beef tallow!
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