We've been talking about this for months but somehow I don't think we ever got around to writing about it here. We often do classes featuring rib eye in three (or more) services. It's one of our favorite cuts of meat and although we know it's expensive, utilized properly there is little waste on a three bone cut.
Cooking meats in their own fat is an old idea. James Beard used to write often about the old Coach House and it was one of their favorite tricks to increase flavor. A rib eye gives you lots of fat or beef tallow to work with. Rendering it is easily done, simply dice the fat, place it in a large pot with a bit of cold water over low flame and let it melt out over the course of a few hours. Every so often give it stir so that things don't stick to the bottom and soon you'll have some beautiful beef fat to cook with. The possibilities are endless and I won't list them all here, but we all know why McDonald's french fries used to be so damned good.
When we do rib eye in three services, we often smoke some of the meat. The richness of the cut allows the meat to stand up to a bit of smoke and tea smoking is a favorite of ours. We do it on the stove top, starting with cold meat and then finish by searing it either in a cast iron pan or on a griddle. It was only one short step to smoking the tallow. It doesn't need much time, 30-60 minutes depending on your palate. It's an amazing transformation as long as you don't overdo it. We actually like to smoke the fat before we render it, though if you already have tallow on hand do not let that deter you.
The tallow keeps well, vacuum sealed in the refrigeration and it adds amazing flavor to anything you cook with it. French fries cooked in smoked beef tallow are a revelation. So are juicy beets that have pressure cooked and then seared in the smoked fat. The smoked tallow is fun because it adds that extra layer of flavor a la minute, allowing cooks to have that smoky taste to a dish without a lot of muss or fuss from short ribs to oysters topped with morels roasted in the smoked fat.