We already understood that diets that are too high in fat were a bad idea. Now we must also take care about what kinds of fats we eat. Now that scientists and doctors have warned people of the dangers of trans fats, and are on the cusp of admitting to the harmfulness of hydrogenated oils, many people are returning to animal fat for many of their cooking needs. They are a good source of unhydrogenated fats that are easily metabolized for energy.
At least for the vast majority of Africans and Native Americans returning to more traditional diets, we get full faster on animal fats than unsaturated and hydrogenated vegetable fats. Our body chemistry reacts to animal fats to tell us when we've consumed enough calories in much the same way it reacts to complex carbohydrates. Hydrogenated fats and refined sugars are unknown in nature. Aside of that, because vegetables are our real highest food priority, we are not made to stop eating vegetables when we've had enough calories. So our bodies will let us eat vegetable fats by volume as opposed to calories.
It should take the equivalent of five cans of corn to get barely a tablespoon of corn oil. Yet you can get that much from a small bag of potato chips. Try it for yourself. If you ever made biscuits with lard, one would be enough, as opposed to two or three made with vegetable shortening.
So using animal fats or at least cold pressed or expressed unhydrogenated vegetable ghee made from pure palm kernel oil or coconut oil will lead you to consume fewer calories overall.
Rendering fat is as easy as frying bacon. The difference is that it's done either by boiling or low heat.
The boiling method is best for subcutaneous (under the skin) fats of larger animals such as cows, sheep, and pigs. It's also good for when you have a large amount that you want to render all at once to freeze. It is more efficient at extracting the fat without burning it at all.
Simply chop the fat into relatively small (approximately 2 square cm.) pieces, and put it in a slow cooker. Turn it on low heat and leave it uncovered. When it is fully melted, there will just be the fibrous solids and/or skin floating in a pool of grease. Strain the grease through a clean metal strainer, and then through a cheesecloth.
You can also melt the fat on the stove top. If you do, use a large pot, and add just enough water to cover the fat. Bring it all to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low. It may take a few hours to a full day, depending on the weather, but by the time it's done, the water will have evaporated.
To store it, you can keep it in the refrigerator, or freeze it in ice trays. Just make sure to label it so you don't get it confused with your soup stock.
If you're like me, and don't eat fried food very often, you may not want to render much at a time. I personally prefer to buy fat or poultry skin, chop it up into pieces, and put it into single recipe servings in the freezer. I use the cheap plastic bags to keep them separate. If you don't like to use plastic bags, you can use wax paper or parchment.
When you need some fat for a recipe, you take one of the bags out of the freezer, and let it thaw for about 15 minutes to half an hour. You need it to be just soft enough to break the pieces apart.
Put them in a pan, and turn the heat up to medium until you hear it starting to sizzle. Then turn the heat down to low. Eventually, you will have some very nicely browned cracklings sizzling gently in the grease. At that point, take out the solid bits, and the grease is ready to use.
Enjoy your hype free cooking!
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