When we prepare rib eye steaks we are always trimming and shaping the end result. For a long time we rendered the large hunk of fat and meat, which runs on the top of a rib eye along the bone, to make fat for cooking and cracklings for sauce. The other day when we were cleaning up a half a rib eye primal, we noticed that this hunk of fat looked remarkably like Mangalista pork belly in its marbling and meat blend. We decided to cut the meat off in one chunk, season it and slow cook for 24 hours at 70°C, the way we cook our beef cheeks. The result was a piece of beef fat which could then be sliced and sauteed like pork belly or foie gras. The fat caramelizes the same way it does on the outside of a roast and the interior is tender and bursting with flavor in your mouth. My first portion was about 60 grams in size when I started cooking and it rendered some fat in the cooking process.
I really enjoyed the flavors of the fat, but consuming it straight from the pan after lunch left me feeling a bit off. Five years ago I could easily have ingested a hunk of roasted fat with no repercussions. Times have changed and so have I. So, is this a useful preparation? Yes. We just need to do some fine tuning and figure out how much is the perfect portion for a specific need. One avenue we are looking at is dicing the fat and frying it like bacon lardons. Or slicing it like bacon to recreate that crusty skin on the top of the roast. Imagine that in a sandwich. Time and tasting will decided where we take this. (and don't think our smoker won't see some action in these tests)