Dripping is the fat that comes off or “drips” from a beef joint during roasting.
In the past, dripping was served as a spread and ‘bread and dripping’ was considered to be a real treat. Nowadays it is used mainly as a cooking fat – either for shallow frying meat, as a roasting fat for potatoes or to dot over a joint to keep it moist during cooking.
Dripping is good for roasting potatoes with, and many English cooks swear that nothing else seems to get them quite as crispy. The reason is that dripping has a very high smoke point of 250 C (480 F) and a very high flash point of 290 C (550 F.) Fish and chip fans swear by chips cooked in dripping.
You can save your own dripping at home from roasts. “Dripping is the fat released during the roasting of a joint of meat (usually beef.) On cooling, it separates into a layer of fat and a layer of meat extractives in a jelly.” Tull, Anita. Food and Nutrition. London: Oxford University. Press. 1996. Page 93. You save the fat and discard the jelly at the bottom, or use that jelly in a sauce or stock if desired.
Commercially, dripping is clarified to form a solid fat that is sold in 500 g (just over 1 pound) blocks. It is smooth and creamy when solid, like lard, and clear and golden when molten.
Pure beef dripping has a multitude of uses, not least of which is basting your roast beef joints to keep them succulent whilst cooking.
Dripping adds flavour to your meat, especially lean cuts.
You can save and store used dripping in the fridge for re-use. Many people swear that the taste isn’t at its best, in fact, on its first time out, and on the first round of use will supplement its taste with a piece or two of bacon.
Good up to 9 months from when it was made, if kept in refrigerator. Store covered. It freezes well. You can use it straight from the freezer.
Literature & Lore
Mrs Beeton supplied a recipe for “A Nice Plain Cake” in her Book of Household Management, October 1861, Chapter XXXV, that calls for “¼ lb. of good dripping”.
|Tull, Anita. Food and Nutrition. London: Oxford University. Press. 1996. Page 93.