Monday, May 13, 2013

Beef Tallow and Spicy Mango Sauce (but not together)

Grass fed beef fat/suet. It smelled kinda gross to be honest.
I did something really gross today. I rendered beef fat. This is definitely as gross as it sounds, but very much worth the time and effort. Let's talk about why.

As I've mentioned before, Mark's Daily Apple is one of my favorite blogs. It likes to throw science at the paleo wall and see what sticks, so we can all be more knowledgeable about our awesome way of eating when the haters come a'hatin... (which is often). Mark has written a WONDERFUL article (linked below) that describes in easy to read detail all about fat. What kinds we should be consuming and why. What ratios of fatty acids we ought to consume to prevent inflammation. Why grass fed animal fats are far, far better for us than any canola oil could ever hope to be. And why, most importantly, not all saturated fats are evil and going to kill us. In fact, animal fats will do more to save us than kill us. About half way through the article, Mark says:
I’ve been brazen enough to recommend saturated fats, found in animal products and some tropical oils, as part of a healthy diet, and I’ll say it again. Saturated fats serve critical roles in the human body. They make up 1/2 of cell membrane structure. They enhance calcium absorption and immune function. They aid in body’s synthesis of the essential fatty acids and provide a rich source of fat soluble vitamins.

Read more:
This is me, loving tallow.
This is why I did something icky like render beef tallow today. Because unlike most fats out there, good GMO free, grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free and pasture finished beef is a wonderful source of fat that will keep my body in shape and most definitely not kill me.

I purchased my amazing beef fat today from a great store on the North Shore of Oahu. Sadly, the military run commissary has very little to offer in the way of organic or grass fed meat. In fact, they don't have any. And lots of the local grocery stores don't seem to sell things like this either. Am I shopping in the wrong stores? Sometimes I wonder. To combat my lack of meaty options, I started a search for a butcher here. I found this great place called VJ's Butcher Shop and read up on what they're all about. They provide great meat that's never eaten junk in its life. They've currently got all different cuts of beef and lamb, as well as local chicken and eggs, and a slew of other tasty critters coming down the pipeline in the near future (see what I did there? I made a surfing reference for the North Shore... one day I WILL be a real writer). I've been following them on facebook since they opened a few months ago and I'm glad I finally made the trip to see them.

In addition to pounds of pure beef fat, I also purchased ground beef, kosher short ribs, osso buco ("bone with a hole"), oxtails, a ginormous t-bone steak, neck marrow bones, and a "neck roast" of lamb. When I first arrived, the butcher (I assume VJ himself?) told me that the popular cuts like NY Strip and Filet Mignon were in the front meat case. I told him those were for people who weren't interested in creative cooking. I wanted the weird, cast-off cuts like osso buco, beef cheek, fat to render for tallow and oxtails. His face light up like a Christmas tree, clearly recognizing a fellow foodie or at least someone who knew their cuts of meat. I would bet it's refreshing to find someone who is interested in eating the whole animal rather than just the popular steaks. Besides, I can't afford those cuts of meat... Cheap, weird cuts for me and mine! Sadly he was out of beef cheek, and there wouldn't be any pork until summer time, but that's just another reason to return in a month or two. Thanks VJ's Butcher Shop for some awesome stuff!!!!

I literally cannot wait to eat all of these things in one beefy rush. If only it hadn't been a bit expensive (but totally worth every stinking penny)... I'd eat all of it in a day. And then die of beef overload... That sounds so wrong...

Let's talk about a recipe that has literally NOTHING to do with everything I just composed. Let's talk about another perk of living in Hawaii: I have access to four (FOUR!) mango trees, all of which are producing big juicy mangoes right now. So what to do when those trees are droppin' 'em like they're hot? Make Spicy Mango BBQ Sauce! You too can make this sauce to slather on pork tenderloins or chicken thighs for your summer barbecue! In fact, tomorrow we'll see how to grill up some juicy chicken drumsticks with this sauce. So let's get cracking.

You will need:

Mangoes straight from the tree! So awesome.
1 shallot, sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, 2tsp crushed garlic
2tbsp coconut oil (or fat of choice, look I chose something other than bacon fat!!!)
3 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
5 thin chilis (I used the thin kung pao ones from my garden), seeds removed for less spicy, seeds of two or three kept for much spicier
2 inches of ginger slightly bigger than your thumb, cut into tiny squares
1c water
2tsp Worchestershire sauce (I put this in everything)
2tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
3 cloves
1/4tsp fennel seed
1/2tsp cumin
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp ground pepper, or about 10 peppercorns
1/4tsp mustard seed
6 cardamom pods, seeds reserved and green pods discarded

  1. First, fry the shallots, onions and ginger pieces in the coconut oil over medium heat. When the onion is translucent, throw the garlic in and fry until fragrant for about a minute or so. 
  2. Then add the diced mango and chilis. The chilis can be kept whole or chopped into small pieces. All of this goes through a blender or food processor later, so it won't matter in the end. 
  3. Add the water and Worchestershire sauce and reduce the heat a bit. 
  4. Simmer this mixture over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until it starts to boil. Stir it often as it gets hotter to prevent the sugary mangoes from sticking to the bottom and burning. 
  5. In the meantime, put the remaining whole spices in a spice grinder (aka. repurposed coffee grinder - just don't go back to using it for coffee... your coffee may taste like tacos or chai if you do) and grind to a powder. If you don't have a coffee grinder to use for mixing spices, you should. Go to Target. Spend the $15. I can't function in a paleo kitchen without mine. You're welcome. Now, grind those spices and add them to the simmering mixture. 
  6. After about 15-20 minutes on the stove, your sauce should be thick and very fragrant. 
  7. Add the vinegar and mix well. If it's still liquidy and the mangoes haven't broken down and turned mushy, keep it simmering on the stove for another five minutes. 
  8. If you're not feeling 100% paleo, add 2tbsp molasses for a deeper flavor and/or if your mangoes weren't sweet enough for you. 
  9. Now. In batches, blend this in a blender or food processor until smooth. 
You can leave some chunks if you want a more "chutney" texture. Originally I called this a chutney, but really it should have big chunks to be a chutney. And I liked this smoother so I could brush it on like a barbecue sauce. So, spicy mango bbq sauce it is! You could also add other spices like star anise or cinnamon. But I hate cinnamon. So there you go. This makes about 3-4 cups of sauce, so make sure you have a big container or a few small ones on hand to store it. Put it in glass jars and stick it in the fridge for up to a month. You can use this on meat, like I said above, OR you can use it as a spicy and tangy dipping sauce. Good grief this stuff is yummy...

Do you like my numbered list of steps better than non-numbered lists? Does anyone even read my recipes??? Comment below and let me know what you think! Tomorrow we'll look at some of this sauce on the grill! Mmmmmm.


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