homemaking

Dripping

Dripping pot

I am on a crusade. For many, what you are about to read will be the most nutritionally politically incorrect information you have come across in some years. In fact, I would say at least 40 years. I am about to extol the virtues of the rendered fat from roasted protein – dripping. Purists please turn away.

Recent generations have been severely lectured to about the dangers of diets weighing high in saturated fats. Nutritionally sound advice, I would agree. However, the tsk tsking  and finger-pointing my grandmother and her compatriots have been subject to for the use of dripping in their family cooking, from subsequent nutritionally ‘informed’ generations has been quite intense. Yet considering her apparent lack of dietary insight, she and her cronies were lean little birds who lived into ripe old ages – meanwhile, the current dripping-free population is fattening and dying. Hmmm.

From my observation, it seems that dripping has become the baby thrown out with the nutritional bath water. It has been demonised – unfairly I believe – to the point where our current generation no longer recognises it, let alone its culinary worth.

Inside the dripping pot

This sweet little vintage pot bears testament to this. Many would be puzzled by its design. It is a dripping pot and it works quite simply. The roasting juices are poured through the strainer, which catches the meat and pan remnants, allowing the rendered fat to flow through. This little pot then takes residence on the refrigerator shelf. After chilling, the fat solidifies and separates from the meat juices.

This jar contains the pourings from my roast chicken pan.

chicken dripping

Now, when I need some fat to brown off vegetables and meats for curries or stews, this flavoursome, natural product is the go to. You can have several little pots of power on the go by saving the drippings from pork and beef roasts as well. This is a wonderful old skill to relearn and reinstate into future kitchens.

Processed foods don’t tend to end up on our table very often, so therefore room has been made for some flavoursome animal fat in our meals. These small amounts, used in moderation, deliver so much oomph to the dishes you make, and chances are, if you are using them then meals from fresh vegetables and meat are under construction. Not an autolyzed yeast extract or modified cornstarch to be had.

Roast beef

Postscript: and just as the purists are picking themselves up off the floor, I have one more arrow to sling – roasted potatoes in dripping.

recipes

Floret

Cauliflower cheese

Autumn gradually segues into Winter, and as it does by 5.00pm kitchens throughout our suburbs begin to emit aromas of succulent roasted cuts. As to what constitutes a ‘roast dinner’ is as unique to each family as the padprints of its members. Raise the topic and prepare for an onslaught from passionate folk who will wax lyrical over their family’s version.

Life is busy and as a consequence, meals are pared down. Let’s not allow our sacred roasts to become casualties of modern times. What was originally a family meal with many accompanying side dishes, is sometimes reduced to meat and basic veg. Coursing through the bloodlines of our particular family roast ancestry, are baking dishes of golden cauliflower cheese. So, when I spied these beauties at our local supermarket this week, a culinary genome was activated.

cauliflowers

That night, positioned beside a crispy golden bird, roasted potatoes and blanched greens sat a piping hot baking dish of Cauliflower Cheese. And as the metal serving spoon broke through the crust to scoop out the  florets nestled in their creamy sauce, I’m sure I heard a collective gasp from the heavens.

1/2 large or 1 small cauliflower
40 g butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
generous handful of grated cheese
1-2 rashers bacon

  1. Slice cauliflower into manageable florets and steam or microwave until tender. Arrange in baking dish.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the flour until lumps disappear. Return to heat and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add milk and increase heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Add cheese, reduce heat and keep stirring until sauce is smooth and thick (add extra milk if required).
  5. Pour sauce over cauliflower and sprinkle bacon over the top.
  6. Place in a 180 degree celsius oven and cook until sauce begins to brow and bacon crisps – about 15 minutes.

cauliflower cheese with roast potatoes

Postscript: This side dish is but one of many that families across the globe serve with their roasted meats. I wonder what yours is.

recipes

Pud

Ostensibly a batter, it is quite remarkable what the contribution of a tray (or two) of yorkshire puddings will make to a succulent roast of beef – with all of the usual trimmings alongside.

In response to a carnivorously deprived teen, recently returned from a Fijian school trip, having existed largely on noodles and yam for two weeks – roast beef became the order of the day. To accompany it, without question, a mountain of yorkshire puddings.

Of the selection of roasted proteins, beef was my childhood favorite, as I grew up with a mother who would never consider serving it without yorkshire pudding. This culinary custom stemmed even further back to my grandmother, who turned out roast beef from a wood stove – her pudding rising to high peaks from the intense heat at the top of the oven (and I’m sure the eggs laid by the backyard chooks were also a contributing factor). She produced hers in a large oven tray and sliced it into wedges, whereas ours have evolved into puffy puds by pouring the mix into cake pans.

I use my old patty pans (which due to age and overuse are far too unsightly to photograph), but the current ones are fine. Big texas muffin tins will work, but you will need to fill them with extra oil and the batter won’t stretch very far. Look for the old patty tins – raid a relative’s kitchen cupboard – I’m sure thousands are out there waiting for their second life.

1 cup plain flour
pinch salt
2 eggs
1 cup (or so) of milk
olive oil

  1. Pre heat oven to 190 degrees celsius.
  2. Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs.
  4. Beat until egg is mixed in (all thick and lumpy).
  5. Gradually add milk, beating with a wooden spoon until lump free and is of pancake batter consistency. You may or may not need all of the milk. Let stand for the afternoon.
  6. Fill patty cake pans with 11/2 tspns olive oil. Place cake pans in the oven so oil is hot (10 minutes).
  7. Ladle batter into heated pans and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until risen and brown.
  8. Serve immediately smothered in gravy. Makes about 12.