Sego, some truths about food blogging and an apology
The image above is of beef fat which, when rendered, becomes what we call tallow in English and sego in Italian. Our contemporary opinions of animal fats, which range from the dismissive to the squeamish have resulted in a steady decline in the use of them. We have grown to favour a spectrum of alternative fats: on the one end are oils like Olive, Coconut and Avocado which are all admittedly delicious and carry with them a range of health benefits. On the other end are so called 'healthy' fats like margarine or its like, which are not so much healthy as they are simply unrecognized as having any business in the human body and thus tend to leave as they came, undigested and unchanged.
But first, a digression.
I've read my fair share of websites on how to "improve your blog", "how to get a million page hits a day," "how to get Barack Obama to personallly endorse your latest article." The first thing they always mention is to make sure that you use beautiful, composed pictures: if your making a peach pie you'll need to get the lights just right, make sure the plate you use comes from the local thrift store and make it look like you're wrapping it up in brown paper and twine just as your grandmother did when she was taking it to her friend Doris who recently had a bad spill and needed some cheering up but who's family lived on the other side of the country and only that pie can lift her spirits. Right, and you should probably also make the pie well.
So for the most part our pictures don't look like that, they are not of a very high quality and we don't have between us one person named Doris. We would and indeed intend on improving the quality of our photos and telling stories with all of then, but for the moment I ask that you take into account these two things:
1. this is the current equipment we have to work with.
2. I'm a chef. I've been in a kitchen for 15 years, since the moment I left high school at 16. I barely know how to engage in social interactions with other humans, and I definitely don't know how to take a picture. I know how to cook. That's why I have a food blog.
The other piece of advice I see often is to use one of the many websites or software out there that let you see the "trends". Some of these blogs actively tell you to find out what is popular at that moment and cook that.
So for example, if you're making a pie and peach is the most searched for fruit on google, then make a peach pie. Or maybe you want to make a pie but cobblers are the hot new number in town? Make a cobbler. That makes me kind of sad because I moved to this town to get away from cooking what someone else thousands of miles from me had decided would be the next big thing. So if there are peaches in season wherever I happen to be and if pie or cobbler even exists as a thing in what ever corner of the world I happen to be in, then yea I'll make a peach pie, and I will do my best to take a good photo of it. But I'll refer you back to those last photos and ask you to be kind.
This brings me back to Sego. It's not trending right now and its not making a huge come back, except for its sporadic appearance in an edible candle served with bread that some pop up restaurant will cleverly put on its menu. But do you know what it is? It IS in my fridge, right now. We raise cattle on the farm and when we butcher that cattle we keep everything except the hide, including the fat. So listen, this is a blog about what we do and how it all works; this is what we do, and this is how it works. It might make you a bit queasy and that should probably be an indicator of what not to put on a food blog, but let's say we're so trendy that we're bucking the trend, shall we?
So before a do is in anyway a furthered, let's render some beef fat!
-First we cut away any meat or organs from the fat.
-Second we give it a good wash in cold water to remove all the blood.
-Then we grind it, as this will make it easier to melt evenly and will increase the yield.
-Once ground its put in a heavy bottomed pan with a small amount of water and melted on a low heat
So contrary to what your brain is telling you right now, animal fat is nutritious and very tasty. Moreover, not eating it would be a waste of food and honestly a waste of money. However it is a dirty job that is not without its downsides, as Ginger's face will attest. The smell can and will get a little nauseating after a few hours.
-After it all renders down, we strain it though cheese cloth to catch any blood that was left.
-The fat is poured into a large tray to cool and harden.
- after a night in the fridge, its's cut into 250g pieces, vacuum sealed, labeled and stored into the freezer for when it's needed.
So what can you do with sego, you ask? Good question, for each fat has its different properties and while some recipes will allow you to substitute one fat for another the results will differ, sometimes considerably. Tallow (sego) gives you an unparalleled crumbly texture, so if that's what you're looking to achieve then you'll be so pleased with the result you'll forget all those gross hours spent in the kitchen. If you want a sponge that is soft but crumbles as you eat it, or you want to make the greatest, crunchiest roast potatoes in town, then Sego is your guy! Or if you're looking to make a sweet pastry crust for a peach pie and happen to be on a farm that doesn't produce butter but does have a couple of loonies that make their own tallow, you're in for a real treat. As we continue on and as they're available, I'll try to talk more about different fats and how to prepare them as well as the results they'll give you when cooking with them.
So yes, tallow is not so cool and it's not the trendiest thing around. You probably won't pin it, like it, tag it or tweet it, but if you give it a chance you may just really enjoy working with it. Plus, unlike margarine, you can wrap it in hipster twine and brown paper!
(Let it never be said that we're not closet hipsters.)
(Not even closet. I have skinny chef trousers.)
Doris is one lucky woman!
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