I’ve enjoyed dozens and dozens of steaks in my life.
Nothing is worse than chewing on undercooked meat fat, only to discreetly spit it out!
The fat content in cuts of meat enhances the flavor.
But you need to know how to prepare and render with the correct cooking technique.
Let’s turn up the heat and explore the ideal method for rendering the fat on a steak.
The Ways to Render Fat on a Steak
The only way you will render fat is heat energy and time!
To render the fat on your steak cook it on medium-high heat.
When you grill at this heat the intramuscular (or marbling) will heat and melt into the meat around it.
This is what also makes your meat juicy and declious.
Why Does Fat Take Longer to Cook?
It cooks at a different rate of time than the meat.
Fat has a higher smoke point and takes longer or higher temps for heat energy to permeate.
Fat is also denser than meat proteins with lower moisture content.
Balancing Cooking the Meat & Rendering the Fat
Before even starting the cooking process we can apply the below tricks.
Helping even the rending time in this method of cooking a steak.
Trimming a Thick Fat Cap Before Cooking
Good quality meat will have a high-fat content.
Believe it or not, it is a sign the animal was healthy.
Trimming the outer layer of fat on the steak reduces the rendering time.
The lower mass of fat = quicker rendering!
Ask your butcher or carefully take a sharp knife.
Evenly trim down until there is only 1/2 an inch of the fat remaining on the outside of the steak.
Cut Into the Fat Layer for Better Heat Distribution
After trimming you can also make some extra cuts with a knife or meat mallet.
This breaks up the fat even more and creates space for heat to penetrate.
Note: Try not to poke holes or cuts into the meat as this will cause the proteins to cook faster!
Heavily Salt the Fat to Draw Out Moisture
Steak with salt is a given for any recipe to enhance the flavor.
But did you also know it draws out moisture and blocks reabsorption?
In scientific terms, this is called osmosis.
Now, even though there is less moisture in fat, it is better protected compared to proteins.
Apply a heavy layer of salt to the fat an hour before cooking.
Drawing out excess moisture from the fat before cooking results in quicker rendering.
Do Not Cook Straight From the Fridge
Guess what… Fat holds temperature for longer than meat!
Cooking a cold steak directly from the fridge slows down the process.
It is the same when you want to render the fat.
Take the steak out of the fridge for at least 10-15 minutes before you plan on heating it.
Cover and leave at room temperature.
The fat will warm slightly and reduce the rendering and cooking time.
Place the Fattier Side Onto the Grill First
Our last tip to help render fat is in the cooking process.
Heat to medium your chosen cooking utensil – I like to use a cast iron pan or griddle.
Place the fat side down directly on the heat and hold it down.
Ensuring every part of the fat is even and directly on the heat.
Hold for 2 minutes or until you see a brown crust forming.
You can then use the rendered fat to cook the meat.
Not only do you speed up the rendering process but you form a delicious crust.
But you also reintroduce the flavor back into your steak!
What Will Happen if I Don’t Render the Fat?
Fat that hasn’t been rendered practically inedible and hard for your body to digest.
Don’t ruin your steak meal with chewy, stringy, and tasteless fat!
You might also risk choking.
Know the Different Types of Fat in a Steak
Below are 4 types of animal fat you will find in and on your steak.
Subcutaneous fat or the fat cap is a layer on the outside of the lean beef.
This is fat between and on the muscle proteins.
The marbling of fat between the muscle fibers.
This fat is attached or in between bones like the ribs.
What Cut of Steak Are You Cooking?
Below are the popular steak cuts we enjoy eating in the USA.
So you get an idea of what to expect for cooking perfect steaks!
Each of these will have a different level of fat content.
Rending the fat will not be the same for any type of steak you cook!
Eye Fillet Steak/Tenderloin Steak
It is unlikely you will have an issue with rendering the fat on this cut.
These leaner steaks contain minimal subcutaneous fat but a high amount of intermuscular fat.
This will render down when cooking the meat so don’t worry about it!
A ribeye steak is the fattiest cut in an animal.
It contains all four types of fat and is located in the rib primal.
Be sure to follow the above directions when cooking.
This makes for a juicy steak if done properly.
A sirloin and rump steak comes from the back end of the animal.
It is likely to have a thick fat cap which will need trimming and rendering down properly.
Cook on medium heat with the fat facing down until you achieve a crisp crust.
This steak has 2 muscles split between a bone in the shape of a T.
Located in the short loin, part of the fillet on one side and a New York Strip on the other.
A T-Bone steak will not be as fatty as a ribeye or sirloin but still needs a bit of help with rendering.
The New York Strip is the larger muscle and may contain a thicker fat cap.
But I’m Not Cooking a Beef Steak
– Pork and lamb steaks require the same technique as beef steaks.
– Use the same prices if you want to render down the fat on a duck or goose.
– It is unlikely you will need to render down fat on other poultry like chicken or turkey.
Getting the Cooking Method for Steak Right
Below is a guide for rendering down the fat on a ribeye steak.
– Trim the fat cap to half an inch while cold.
– Salt the fat heavily and leave it outside the fridge for 15 minutes.
– Heat a cast iron pan on medium-high heat and wait until temp.
– Add oil with a high smoke point like vegetable or even bacon lard.
– Wipe away excess salt and moisture from the ribeye.
– Place the ribeye fat side down and flatten it with some force.
– Watch for at least a tablespoon of rendered fat in the pan.
– Check for a brown-colored crust formation.
– Finish the steak to your preferred method of doneness.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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