Prepare and Store Leftover Meat Drippings

Commenter Ariela asked how to use the meat juices and sauces—drippings—from cooking meat. I called these drippings  “a cook’s secret weapon,” because they are a cheap and easy way of adding meat flavor and protein to food without fat. Technically they are not gravy, which is made by mixing meat juices with flour to make a thick sauce.

Preparing Leftover Meat Drippings for Use in Recipes

After serving or storing your cooked meat or chicken, you’ll have some juice or sauce left over. Even if there is no liquid, you can still save the browned, crispy remainders that my kids call “the good stuff.” Don’t worry if you have bits of vegetables mixed in.

Use a metal or plastic spatula to scrape baked-on or browned drippings into a jar. Pouring boiling water on the drippings to loosen them up. You usually dilute the drippings so extra water doesn’t hurt.

If the drippings have been sitting for a while, kill bacteria by boiling or return the pan to the hot oven for twenty minutes or so.

Carefully pour the drippings into a container. Wear an apron and pour away from your body. Tilt a square pan to pour from a corner, allowing a thin stream. You might need to pour into a medium-sized container first or use  a funnel.

Choosing a Container

A shallow container will allow too much surface area, so you’ll end up with a thin layer or drops of fats that are hard to remove. A tall, narrow jar is best, because the layer of fat that forms when the liquid congeals in the refrigerator will keep the air out and the gravy will stay fresher. Glass is preferable to plastic. The container should have an airtight seal.

So the next morning you have a lovely jar of brown goodness with a thick layer of fat on top. What can you do with it? Well, you can let it sit. If you boiled it the fat should keep the drippings fresh for even a few weeks. Always examine by sight and smell before using.

The drippings will usually congeal. The thicker they are, the stronger the taste. There’s no way to guess how much to use, as it depends on how much water was in the recipe, how much salt, and other factors.

Freezing

You can freeze the drippings, but it’s best to wait until you have removed the layer of fat. Divide into small containers or use an ice cube tray. Once frozen, keep the cubes in a bag and take out as much as you need.

Meat drippings, once the fat has been removed, are mostly protein. It’s not as nutritious as meat, but add some beans or other source of protein and it can be a whole meal.

Ideas for jazzing up food using the drippings can be found here.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

Putting Quick Meals Together

Pre-Leftovers and Rotating Food

Seven Uses for Leftover Bread

Microwave Myths

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  1. [...] Deglaze the turkey pan. Don’t waste your hard-earned flavor. Pour about two cups of boiling water in the pan, scrape with a spatula, then carefully pour the drippings into a jar or two. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. When it’s cool, you can remove the layer of fat and use the drippings to flavor rice, soups, vegetables, or your leftover turkey. For extra convenience, freeze drippings in an ice cube tray. [...]

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