Rendering and Clarifying Fats

Rendering and Clarifying Fats

Rendering Fats

Occasionally, the fat from ducks, geese or pork may be required for such dishes as confit or cassoulet. Salt pork, another example, should be gently rendered, or melted down, so that the fat can be used to smother the aromatic vegetables used in the preparation of soups, stews and braises. Properly clarifying a roast's fat and drippings is essential for the preparation of a good pan gravy. The method is as follows -

  • Cube the fat, if necessary.

  • Place the fat in a sauté pan. Add about 1/2 inch of water to the uncooked fats if there are no drippings present.

  • Cook over low heat until the water evaporates and the fat is released. This is the actual clarifying process.

  • Remove the cracklings, if any, with a slotted spoon and they may be reserved for garnish.

  • Use the clarified fat or store it under refrigeration. A caramelized form from a roast's drippings should remain once the clarified fat is poured away. Deglaze these drippings with stock, wine or water and use them to prepare a pan gravy.

Clarifying Butter

Clarified butter is pure butterfat. Ghee is clarified butter that has been simmered longer to highly clarify the butterfat. Drawn butter is clarified butter served with boiled or steamed seafood. The purpose of clarifying butter is to allow the chef to cook with butter at a higher temperature than would be possible with whole butter. The milk solids in whole butter scorch easily and lower its smoking point.

 

Because it has some butter flavor, clarified butter is often used for sautéing, sometimes in combination with a vegetable oil to further raise the smoking point. It is also commonly used to make roux. When whole butter is clarified, some of its volume is lost during skimming and decanting. One pound (455 grams) of whole butter yields approximately 12 ounces (340 grams) of clarified butter. The process of clarifying butter is as follows -

  • Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat.

  • Continue to cook over low heat until the butterfat becomes very clear and the milk solids drop to the bottom of the pot.

  • Skim the surface foam as the butter clarifies.

  • Pour or ladle off the butterfat into another container, being careful to leave all the liquid in the pan bottom. Discard the liquid.

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