What To Do With Ham Fat And Skin? The Complete Guide

Ham is a delicious and versatile meat that can be used in a variety of dishes. But what about the fat and skin that often gets trimmed away?

Don’t throw it out just yet! With a little bit of effort, you can turn these scraps into something delicious and useful.

In this article, we’ll explore different ways to render ham fat and use the leftover skin to add flavor to your meals. From making lard to adding flavor to soups and stews, you’ll be surprised at the many ways you can utilize these often overlooked parts of the ham.

So, let’s dive in and discover the possibilities of ham fat and skin!

What To Do With Ham Fat And Skin?

One of the most popular uses for ham fat is to render it into lard. Lard is a versatile cooking fat that can be used in place of oil or butter for sautéing, frying, and baking. To render ham fat, start by cutting the fat into small dice and placing it in a saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and after some time, you’ll see a pool of liquid fat at the bottom of the pan. Add more diced fat and continue rendering until the bits are dark brown and there’s a nice pool of liquid fat. Strain the fat from the bits and store it in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

Another way to use ham fat is to bake it in the oven until it’s crispy and golden brown. This creates a delicious snack that’s perfect for munching on or adding to dishes for extra flavor and texture. Simply place the trimmed fat and skin on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for about an hour, until the fat has rendered and the pieces are crispy. Drain on a paper towel and enjoy!

The leftover skin from a ham can also be used to add flavor to soups, stews, and broths. Simply add the skin to a pot with water or broth and simmer for several hours until the skin has softened and infused the liquid with flavor. Remove the skin before serving and discard.

Additionally, you can use ham broth as a flavorful base for other dishes. Use it in place of water when cooking beans or grains, or add it to soups and stews for extra depth of flavor.

Finally, don’t forget about the meaty bits that fall off the bone during cooking. These can be used in a variety of dishes, such as fried rice, omelets, or soups.

What Is Ham Fat And Skin?

Ham fat and skin are often overlooked and discarded, but they can actually be used in a variety of ways to add flavor and texture to dishes. Ham fat is the layer of fat that surrounds a ham, while the skin is the outermost layer that has been exposed to the curing process. Both of these parts can be rendered into lard or baked until crispy for snacking. The skin can also be used to flavor soups and broths, while the meaty bits that fall off the bone during cooking can be added to various dishes for extra flavor. Overall, ham fat and skin are versatile ingredients that should not go to waste.

How To Render Ham Fat

Rendering ham fat is a simple process that requires only the fat itself. Start by cutting the fat into small quarter-inch dice. In a heavy skillet, cook the fat covered over low heat, stirring occasionally until the fat is liquid and the remaining flesh is crisp and brown. Add more diced fat and continue rendering until the bits are dark brown and there’s a nice pool of liquid fat. Strain the fat from the bits using a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl or measuring cup, being careful since hot fat can severely burn. You may want to line the strainer with a piece of cheesecloth or paper towel to catch the smallest pieces of crackling. Once strained, store the rendered fat in a clean jar in the refrigerator for use in cooking as you would use oil or butter for sautés. Keep in mind that rendering is a slow process, so be patient and watch carefully to prevent burning.

Alternatively, you can also use a crock pot or oven to render ham fat. To use a slow cooker, set the temperature to low, add the fat, and let cook for several hours, stirring every once in a while. It is done when you see that a clear fat has separated from any solids. To use an oven, set the temperature to 250°F, place the fat in an oven-proof pan, and let cook—stirring occasionally—until rendered. In both cases, you know it is ready when there are dry cracklings floating in a clear fat liquid. Strain as described above and store in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

Uses For Rendered Ham Fat

Once you’ve rendered your ham fat, there are many ways to incorporate it into your cooking. Here are some ideas:

1. Use it for frying: Ham fat has a high smoke point, making it perfect for frying foods like chicken, potatoes, and vegetables. Its rich flavor adds a delicious dimension to any dish.

2. Make biscuits: Lard is a traditional ingredient in Southern-style biscuits, and ham fat can be used in its place for a unique twist on this classic recipe.

3. Add to soups and stews: A spoonful of rendered ham fat can add depth and richness to any soup or stew. Try adding it to bean soups or hearty stews for an extra boost of flavor.

4. Use as a spread: Similar to butter or margarine, you can spread rendered ham fat on toast or bread for a savory breakfast or snack.

5. Roast vegetables: Toss vegetables like Brussels sprouts or carrots in a bit of rendered ham fat before roasting in the oven for a delicious side dish.

6. Make gravy: Use rendered ham fat as the base for a flavorful gravy to serve over mashed potatoes or biscuits.

7. Cook eggs: Add a bit of ham fat to your skillet before frying eggs for a delicious breakfast treat.

With these creative uses for rendered ham fat, you’ll never waste any part of your ham again!

Making Cracklings From Ham Skin

If you’re looking for a crispy and delicious snack, try making cracklings from ham skin. To start, remove the skin from the ham and wipe off any excess moisture with a paper towel. Place the skin on a wire rack and allow it to dry out in the fridge overnight. Once it’s dry, score the skin every 5mm using a sharp knife and rub it with oil and salt.

Preheat your oven to 240°C (220°C fan-forced) and place the skin on a baking dish in the middle of the oven. Roast until the skin starts to blister and crackle, rotating the dish halfway through. This should take around 60-75 minutes depending on your oven. Once the skin is crispy and golden brown, reduce the temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced) and cook for another hour or until heated through.

Another method for making cracklings involves boiling the skin in water until it’s soft, then drying it out in the fridge overnight. Once it’s dry, cut it into small pieces and deep fry them in hot oil until they’re crispy and puffed up. Toss them with salt or your favorite seasoning and enjoy as a snack or topping for salads and soups.

No matter which method you choose, be sure to handle hot oil with care and always use caution when frying or roasting. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can turn leftover ham skin into a delicious and crispy treat.

Using Ham Skin In Soups And Stews

One of the best ways to utilize leftover ham skin is to add it to soups and stews. The skin contains a lot of flavor, and when simmered in a pot of broth, it can add a rich and savory taste to the dish. To use ham skin in soups and stews, simply add it to the pot with other ingredients, such as vegetables, beans, or grains. Be sure to remove any excess fat from the skin before adding it to the pot.

To get the most flavor out of the ham skin, it’s best to simmer it in the broth for several hours. This will allow the skin to soften and release its flavor into the liquid. Once the soup or stew is finished cooking, remove the skin from the pot and discard it.

If you don’t have a leftover ham skin, you can still use ham bones or hocks in soups and stews. These parts of the ham contain a lot of flavor and can be used to make a delicious broth. Simply add the bones or hocks to a pot with water and simmer for several hours until the broth is rich and flavorful. Strain out any solids and use the broth as a base for your soup or stew.

Other Creative Ways To Use Ham Fat And Skin

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of other creative ways to use ham fat and skin. One unique idea is to use the rendered fat as a moisturizer for your skin. Some people swear by slathering their feet with ham fat, putting on two pairs of socks, and leaving it overnight. In the morning, they wash off the lard and easily file away dead skin and calluses, leaving their feet super soft.

Another way to use ham skin is to make pork rinds. Simply cut the skin into small pieces, season with salt and spices, and fry in hot oil until crispy. These make a delicious snack or can be used as a topping for salads or soups.

You can also use ham fat to make homemade soap. Render the fat as you would for cooking, then mix it with lye and water to create a soap base. Add essential oils or other scents for a personalized touch.

Finally, if you have a garden, consider using ham fat and skin as compost. The fat will break down over time and add nutrients to your soil, while the skin will help aerate the compost pile. This is a great way to reduce waste and improve your garden at the same time.