Innovative Ways to Use and Cook with Leftover Ham Fat

The holidays often leave us with leftover baked ham and chunks of fatty ham trimmings. While some may see ham fat as a waste product to throw out, it can actually be transformed into a versatile cooking ingredient. Rendering and cooking with ham fat adds incredible depth of flavor and richness to all kinds of recipes.

In this article, we’ll explore clever ways to use ham fat in the kitchen so it doesn’t go to waste From savory roasted vegetables to flaky baked goods, the possibilities are endless!

Render Ham Fat for Cooking

The first step is rendering the ham fat by slowly cooking it to extract all the delicious fat from the other tissue. Here’s a simple method:

  • Dice the fatty ham trimmings into 1/4 inch pieces

  • Add to a heavy skillet and cook over low heat until liquefied, stirring occasionally.

  • Strain the melted fat through a cheesecloth to remove any cracklings.

  • Store rendered ham fat in an airtight container in the fridge up to 1 month.

Use as a Cooking Oil

Once rendered, ham fat makes an incredible cooking oil. Use it anywhere you would typically use butter, olive oil or bacon fat.

  • Saute vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes and onions

  • Fry eggs for breakfast

  • Pop popcorn or roast nuts for snacking

  • Make refried beans or rice

The ham fat adds a lovely smoky, savory quality.

Flavor Soups and Stews

Simmer a hunk of ham fat in soups or stews while cooking. It infuses them with rich flavor as it slowly melts.

  • Bean or lentil soups

  • Hearty vegetable soups like minestrone

  • Chicken noodle or tortilla soup

  • Chilis and chowders

  • Classic ham and bean stew

Bake with Ham Fat

In baking, ham fat can replace butter, oil or lard in recipes. Use it for:

  • Pie crusts – makes them deliciously flaky

  • Biscuits – so savory and fluffy

  • Cornbread – perfect smoky flavor

  • Cookies – adds a salty twist

  • Cakes and muffins – substitute 1:1 for the fat

Roast Vegetables

Roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and other veggies with a bit of diced ham fat for incredible flavor. The ham fat bastes the vegetables as they cook, making them irresistible.

Flavor Pasta Dishes

Stir some diced ham fat into pasta right before serving for a hit of flavor. Or use rendered ham fat instead of olive oil to coat pasta before baking into a casserole.

Enhance Eggs and Breakfast

Add richness to breakfast eggs and other dishes by cooking with ham fat.

  • Fry eggs in ham fat

  • Grease egg bake pans with ham fat

  • Saute breakfast meats like bacon or sausage in it

  • Use in place of butter on toast

Ham Fat “Chicharrones”

“Chicharrones” are essentially pork rinds popular in Hispanic cuisine. Make your own by cooking ham fat pieces in a pan until the fat renders out and you’re left with deliciously crispy cracklings. These golden bits make a perfect crunchy salad topping or snack.

Flavor Meat Dishes

Use ham fat to lend flavor complexity when cooking beef, poultry and other meats.

  • Pan sear chicken cutlets, pork chops or steaks in ham fat

  • Saute ground meats for tacos, burgers, etc.

  • Braise beef or make gravy with ham fat

  • Add to the bottom of roasting pans for drippings

Make a Nourishing Broth

Simmer ham fat scraps in water with vegetables and seasonings to make a nourishing and delicious broth. Strain and use as a base for soups or stews. The ham fat provides a hit of flavor and nutrients like vitamin B1.

With a little creativity, ham fat can transform the flavor of roasted vegetables, eggs, baked goods and more. Don’t let those fatty trimmings go to waste. Render ham fat and use it to add richness, smokiness and depth to all kinds of dishes.

What can I do with fat from ham?

Can You bake a ham with fat on?

In the process of using a baked ham, simply set aside all of the fatty bits and chunks that you don’t want to consume in their current state. On both the shank and butt portions of ham, there can be a substantial swath of fat across part of the exterior. Go ahead and bake the ham with the fat on, scoring well to render fat while baking.

What can you do with ham fat?

1. Use it as a cooking oil: Just like bacon fat, ham fat can be used as a flavorful cooking oil. Use it to fry eggs, sauté vegetables, or even make popcorn. 2. Make refried beans: Instead of using lard or vegetable oil to make refried beans, try using ham fat for a delicious twist on this classic dish. 3.

How do you cook a ham without overcooking?

Go ahead and bake the ham with the fat on, scoring well to render fat while baking. Not all of the fat will render in such a large swath without severely overcooking your ham. With all of the leftover chunks of fat which you trimmed and saved, cut the pieces which appear to be only fat (no meat attached) into 1/4 to 1/2-inch dices.

What can I do with leftover ham fat?

It can be used as a cooking oil to add flavor to dishes such as eggs or vegetables. It can also be used as a base for soups and stews or as a replacement for lard or vegetable oil in recipes such as refried beans or homemade crackers. If you have leftover ham fat, don’t throw it away!

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