What To Do With Brisket Fat Trimmings: A Complete Guide

You probably already know that fat lends a great deal of flavor and texture to smoked brisket. However, some cuts are fattier than others, which means you may end up trimming some of it. Is there any way to make use of those leftover fat trimmings? Let’s take a look.

What To Do With Brisket Fat Trimmings

Brisket fat can be used in a variety of recipes, from ground chuck to homemade sausage to Yorkshire pudding. If there’s a lot left over, the fat freezes well. Its uses aren’t restricted to cooking applications, either–you can use the tallow to make candles, soap, or body butters as well.

Should I Trim the Fat Off a Brisket?

raw spiced rubbed brisket

The answer depends on how much fat there is on the meat to begin with. If there’s a lot, then it’s fine to remove some of it. Leaner cuts, on the other hand, should be left intact in order to give the meat a better flavor and texture.

Any fat you trim from a brisket will probably come from the flat end. That’s because this section has a long fat cap running along the edge, which is easier to remove. Again, don’t forget to leave some of it intact, or the brisket might be too dry when it’s finished cooking.

You can also try trimming some of the fat from the point end. However, this is trickier, because the point is laden with intramuscular fat called marbling. If you attempt to carve too much of it away, you’ll probably end up losing a great deal of meat as well.

What To Do With Brisket Fat Trimmings

Once you’ve trimmed away the fat, it would be a shame to throw it away. Beef tallow, as it’s sometimes called, is a great ingredient to have on hand–both in and out of the kitchen.

Food Uses

Hamburger Meat

iron meat grinder grinding beef

Even if you’ve never made your own ground chuck before, now would be the perfect time to start. That leftover brisket fat will do an admirable job of keeping the ground beef nice and moist, so your hamburgers will turn out juicy and delicious.

It helps if you have a meat grinder, but you can also make ground chuck with a regular food processor. Here’s how.

Start with 1 pound of high-quality chuck roast. Check the fat content of the meat to determine how much fat you’ll need to add in order to get the ratio you want.

For example, if your chuck roast is 93 percent lean and you want your ground chuck to be 70 percent lean, you should add about 25 percent of the total weight in fat. For 1 pound of chuck, that means adding 4 ounces (which is around 1/4 pound) of pure beef fat.

You’ll notice that we’ve rounded up by a couple of percentage points. That’s because a small amount of fat will probably get left behind in the food processor afterward. We would recommend using a kitchen scale for this task.

When it comes to ground chuck, try not to make the mixture more than 90 percent lean. If you do, you’ll wind up with dry, leathery burgers.

For best results, place the beef, fat trimmings, and food processor blade in the freezer for about 20 minutes. This will help keep the components from overheating during processing.

Cut the chuck roast into cubes about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick. After replacing the food processor blade, add about half the meat and fat to the bowl. It’s important not to add more than 1/2 pound of meat at a time, or the results will be inconsistent.

At this point, you can add seasonings if you’d like. We prefer to season the beef after it’s ground so we can tailor the results to each recipe. If you do decide to add them now, garlic powder, onion powder, and a seasoning salt (such as Lawry’s) are a nice blend of ingredients.

Pulse the mixture in 1- to 2-second bursts until the meat reaches the desired consistency. A coarse grind is preferable for hamburgers, but if you plan to use the ground chuck for meatballs or meat loaf, go for a finer grind. This will help the meat absorb the seasonings and hold its shape after cooking.

Be careful not to overgrind the chuck. As a rule, try not to perform the pulse operation more than 10 to 12 times. Never let the food processor run continuously, as the residual heat from the friction will turn the meat into a mushy mess that’s unsuitable for any recipe.

When the meat has reached the correct consistency, remove it from the food processor and form it into patties, if desired. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or freeze the meat for up to 6 months.

Homemade Sausage

To use your brisket fat in homemade pork sausage, you can follow the same guidelines listed above. Just substitute pork shoulder for the ground chuck and season the mixture with ground sage, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

We would also advise using a smaller amount of brisket fat when making sausage, as pork shoulder is much fattier than chuck roast. Try adding 1 to 2 ounces per pound as an experiment. You can always add more to the next batch if the sausage comes out too lean.

Also, remember to cook pork sausage to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees before eating it. Never taste raw pork sausage. Instead, make a small patty and fry it up to test the seasoning, and adjust as needed.

In the Smoker

Some pitmasters like to take the scraps of brisket fat and place them on an upper rack in the smoker with the brisket itself below. This allows the fat to drip down onto the meat as it renders, giving it just the right amount of moisture.

If you go this route, we would suggest poking holes in a large sheet of aluminum foil and using that to hold the brisket trimmings. This will keep the fat from pouring down too quickly, which could lead to flare-ups.

Cooking Fat

When beef tallow has been rendered, it lends unbeatable flavor to potato dishes such as home fries and hash browns. If you have enough of it on hand, you can even use it as a frying oil for French fries or country-style fried chicken.

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding is another famous dish that includes beef fat in its recipe. To make it, place the trimmings in a large baking dish and heat in a 400 degree oven until the fat has rendered. You’ll want the pan to have about 1/4 inch of fat in the bottom.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 scant cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 large eggs, and 1/3 cup water. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and let bake for about 10 minutes longer, until the pudding is puffy and golden brown. Slice into squares and serve at once.

Practical Uses

Soap

Beef tallow is a popular ingredient in homemade soaps, and many commercial brands use it as well. It hardens up well and creates a thick, foamy lather that’s difficult to replicate with other oils.

Body Butters

While it might sound strange, beef fat contains a number of nutrients that make it an excellent skin moisturizer. We would recommend keeping a good supply of essential oils on hand if you intend to use it for these purposes. Otherwise, the scent of animal fat will be overpowering.

Candles

Tallow can also be used as a replacement for beeswax when making candles. Simply melt the tallow and let it cool in a heatproof canning jar. Set a wick in the middle, and you’re ready to go. If you’d prefer a scented candle, you can add a drop or two of essential oil before it hardens.

Final Thoughts

If you buy a brisket that happens to have a great deal of fat on it, don’t despair. There are plenty of ways to make use of the extra fat, and the brisket itself will have a ton of flavor.

Remember–you don’t necessarily have to use the brisket trimmings right away. The fat freezes well, so you can take as much as you need for your next recipe and save the rest for later.

Best of luck, and happy grilling!

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