Andrew Zimmern's Fridge Hack For Removing That Pesky Brisket Fat

When it comes to a spectacular centerpiece for special occasions, brisket is hard to beat. That said, it can also be tough to prepare, and certain elements of the process may be particularly intimidating to home cooks. Which is why, when a professional shares a handy hack to help navigate the peskiest of cooking conundrums, it's a good idea to heed that advice. And when it comes to classic brisket, celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern's got you covered. 

One of the trickiest parts of perfecting your homemade brisket is removing the fat. But with Zimmern's foolproof method (to which he credits his grandmother), you don't have to stock a single extra ingredient or tool; all you need is a little time and planning. By resting your brisket overnight in the refrigerator, you allow the fat in your roasting liquid to rise and congeal, which makes it a snap to scoop off before serving.

Methods for removing brisket fat

The secret to Andrew Zimmern's hack is that fat congeals when cold, forming a layer at the top of a liquid, making it simple to remove. In this case, the chef's suggestion is to get right in there using the tools with which you were born — your hands — to do this task. That said, if you'd prefer to keep your mitts clean, there are multiple ways to skim fat from brisket liquid, similar to the ways you would for stocks and gravies. You can use a traditional spoon or ladle or even source specially designed fat-skimming spoons and fat separators. If you have a fine mesh sieve, you can also lay cheesecloth along the wire basket, which will help reinforce the straining power for collecting the solidified fat.

If you don't quite have the time to wait overnight and have no choice but to work with still-warm liquid, you can even perform a "cool" trick using a standard metal spoon. Fill the spoon with ice and place it on the surface of your liquid; this will instantly cause the fat to congeal and cling to your tool. Regardless of how you remove it, once you've skimmed off the fat, you can proceed with reducing the liquid left behind, concentrating it into a delicious sauce to serve with your finished beef.

Flavorful fat and more ways to use it

You may wonder, "Well, if I'm going to remove the fat from the liquid anyway, isn't it easier to just buy a leaner cut of meat?" The answer is that, like most foods, the fat in your brisket is a major part of its flavor, and purchasing a lean cut will deprive your dinner of a good amount of the moisture and taste that infuses the meat as it cooks. So even if it feels tempting to go for a cut that's had the fat removed in advance, do yourself and your guests a favor and opt for an untrimmed piece.

The fat you skim off your liquid doesn't have to go to waste, either. You can use it to make beef tallow, which is a great way to add richness and flavor to everything from skillet cornbread to the best copycat McDonald's French Fries. Combine it with cheese curd (the ingredient that makes the perfect poutine) for a decadent and unforgettable french fry upgrade. It has a high smoke point (420 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it a versatile culinary accoutrement. You can even rub your grill grates down with it to prevent sticking. Regardless of how you choose to use your brisket byproduct, you can thank Chef Andrew Zimmern — and his grandmother — for the tip.