Sunday, September 08, 2013

"Drain the Fat"

Those recipes are always telling you to brown the meat and then to drain the fat.  For years I was a good girl; I followed the directions.

Then butter grew more expensive.
It bugged me: I would drain the fat off the hamburger, and then I would add olive oil or butter or whatever to the recipe.  Why?  I began to use the grease from the hamburger as the fat in the recipe.

I understand that, for many years, it was popular to decry saturated fats.  "Drain the fat from the sausage?  Oh yes, then use margarine in the recipe."  "Throw out the hamburger grease, and then put Crisco in the skillet to saute the veggies for your casserole."  Science is beginning to catch up to my mantra of: "The fat God made must be healthier than the fat the chemists invented, regardless of what current scientific studies conclude."

But how do we explain decades-old recipes that said to "drain the fat" -- recipes before Hate-Saturated-Fats became trendy?

In one of our food-history books, I came across information about rations and scrimping during WWII.  According to this book, "drain the fat" (and donate it for needs pertinent to the war effort) was a patriotic thing to do.  Keeping your bacon grease or your hamburger fat to use for your own family's needs?  Selfish! 

Ah ha!  That may be part of the answer to The Great Drain-the-Fat Mystery!


  1. I'll bet you're on to something there. Also, many people have always reused animal fat. I remember my grandmother's jar of bacon grease that she kept by the stove; after making fried eggs she'd strain it back into the jar for next time. A young woman during the Depression, she never wasted a thing, even years after the war was over.

  2. Mmmmm, bacon fat.

    But your grandma strained it? I thought one of the joys of saving bacon fat was those little bits of bacon that were mixed in with the fat ... and which flavor your green beans ... or your breakfast eggs ... or your hash browns!