There’s no question about it: Ribeye is one of the fattiest cuts of steak you can buy. For grilling aficionados, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes it does result in a lot of trimmings.
Is there anything you can do with this excess fat besides feed it to the dog? Let’s take a look.
What To Do With Ribeye Fat
Most people don’t bother to trim their ribeye steaks, since the fat is an essential component of the cut. But if you do, you can use the trimmings to make homemade ground beef or sausage or to flavor a pot of stew or chili. If you have enough trimmings, you can even make a batch of beef tallow.
As you may have guessed from the name, the ribeye is a steak that’s cut from the rib primal. This section is located along the steer’s back, toward the forequarter.
The ribeye muscle is the main muscle in the rib. It sits high up on the back of the steer, where it doesn’t get a lot of exercise. As such, the meat in this section is both tender and full of the intramuscular fat called marbling.
Cuts from the rib primal are best suited for high-heat cooking methods like grilling or searing. Prime rib can also be roasted at a relatively low temperature.
However, these cuts don’t benefit from low-and-slow cooking applications like braising. It’s best to save those for leaner and tougher cuts.
When it’s cooked correctly, ribeye is both flavorful and tender. As such, it’s one of the more expensive cuts you’ll find, though it doesn’t fetch as high a per-pound price as filet mignon. Since the ribeye is a larger cut, though, your total cost could be higher when you put this steak on the menu.
About USDA Steak Grades
As designated by the USDA, steaks are graded based on the amount of marbling in the meat. The more marbling there is, the higher the grade.
The USDA has eight beef grades. However, only the top five are sold to the general public. The lower grades are often used for canned goods and processing.
Prime is the highest grade a cut of beef can receive. It has a generous amount of marbling and comes from younger animals, which yield the most tender meat.
Only about 2.9 percent of beef receives the Prime grade. Most Prime beef ends up in restaurants, but you might be able to find it in specialty butcher shops as well.
Choice beef is widely available in supermarkets, as well as restaurants. The beef has an impressive amount of marbling, though not quite as much as Prime. About 50 percent of graded beef falls under the Choice label.
This is another type of beef that’s easy to find on supermarket shelves. It’s fairly lean, which means that it won’t be as tender or juicy as Choice or Prime cuts. When you’ve purchased a Select cut, stewing and braising are your best bets.
Standard and Commercial
Beef with these grades can be found at lower prices than the others. In fact, retailers often won’t label the packages with the grade at all. Since the beef will be lean enough to dry out easily, it’s better to use moist-heat cooking methods for these cuts.
Canner, Cutter, and Utility
Most of the time, beef that falls into these categories will be from older animals. It may also lack any marbling whatsoever, which is why it’s reserved for canned goods and processed beef products.
What To Do With Ribeye Fat
Though the intramuscular fat on a ribeye steak is one of its best qualities, the steak can also have a generous amount of fat along the outer edge. Some grillers prize this aspect of the cut, while others would prefer not to deal with it.
If you fall into the latter camp, then you can trim away some of the fat. The steak should still have plenty of marbling to provide moisture and flavor.
Once you’ve trimmed the fat from the ribeye, what can you do with it? Essentially, anything you would do with the trimmings from other cuts of beef. Here are a few of our favorite options.
You can dice up the fat, then portion it out and wrap the packages for the freezer. When you’re ready to use the fat in a recipe, take out as much as you need.
When stored at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the ribeye fat will keep indefinitely. But it’s best to use it within 6 months. That’s a good rule of thumb to follow for most meat products—with the exception of ground meat, which dries out more quickly.
Make a Stew or Casserole
If you have ribeye fat on hand, you can use it as a substitute for olive oil or butter. Just warm the fat gently over low heat until it renders, then measure out as much as you need for your recipe. This is an excellent way to enliven a beef stew, casserole, or soup recipe.
Make Beef Tallow
If you have enough fat stored up, you can make homemade beef tallow. This involves heating the fat slowly until it renders, then discarding the cracklings. Be forewarned, though: It’s not worth doing if you only have a few ounces of fat.
Make Ground Beef or Sausage
Most people don’t bother to grind their own beef, but it gives you more control over how much fat goes into the mixture. Use your ribeye fat trimmings to get the ideal meat-to-fat ratio. You can use the same approach the next time you’re making homemade sausage.
The Bottom Line
Ribeye fat trimmings play by the same rules as most types of beef fat. The trouble is, you probably won’t have much of it if you’re only trimming a few steaks.
If this is the case, your best bet is to freeze the fat in small portions as you go along. That way, you can either use as much as you need for a certain recipe, or wait until you have a large batch for making tallow.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!