Food & Drink Magazine

Constant Dripping

By Patinoz
Constant dripping

A TG Green dripping pot, complete with lid.

Low glycaemic index, glycaemic load, trans fats, saturated fats, LDL cholesterol – the good, the bad and the ugly of 21st century diets.

Michael Pollan once advised, “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.”

My English, Irish and Scottish great-grannies probably wouldn’t recognise some of the items that come home from the market in my trolley, but most of it  falls under the fairly safe category. I do believe in cooking most meals from scratch rather than from packets bearing a list of ingredients that looks like a chemistry lab inventory.

However, there were some things in my childhood diet that would have today’s food police shuddering.

When I was a child every household I knew had a dripping tin. Some used any receptacle suitable for the job. Others had a purpose-made container, often labelled “Dripping”. They might be made from aluminium or enamel or come from a ceramics factory such as TG Green. Some had a strainer top for separating out the lumpier bits from the roasting pan, and a lid to keep out foreign bodies. If they didn’t had lids, they would sometimes be covered with circles of plastic cloth with elascticated edges. Dripping was saved from one roast for the next.

Constant dripping

A Szeilerpot dripping container with treacle glaze

There was usually a good yield. Joints of meat in those days were notably fattier than today’s. No lean little lamb legs or carefully trimmed beef. Hogget and mutton were common fare, beef was valued for its tasty dripping and there was all that creamy suet that surrounded beef and sheep kidneys.

But in addition to the fat that came on the fresh joint, the residual fat and residue from earlier roasts was pulled out and spread over the meat. A bit like a master stock. Maybe it was our Western umami hit. And, oh, wasn’t it grand for Yorkie puds!

It wasn’t just used for cooking. Dad and I were the bread and dripping fiends in our house. He would carve a couple of doorsteps off the loaf of white bread then plunge a knife into the dripping tin, through the paler firmer layer from the last roast down to the dark brown sediment then the jelly at the bottom. These would be slathered on the bread along with some of the softer fat. Some salt and a good shake of pepper and we’d beam conspiratorially at one another and smack our lips.

Constant dripping

A Price Kensington pot

Americans were less poetic about their roasting residue – they called it “grease”. For me, that doesn’t conjure of visions of something delicious.

At boarding school we often got bread and dripping for an after school snack. It was almost as popular as the minced corned beef, onion and tomato sauce sandwiches.

The strange thing these days is that most roasts I cook barely produce enough fat for making the gravy, let alone be saved for later use.

Bread and dripping has given way to dietary correctness. Even butter is something I rarely eat, except when it is presented with dinner rolls at a restaurant. And there are some delicious artisanal buters out there. Of course, as we all know, butter served in restaurants has no calories.

These days the milk I use rarely has any fat in it, I buy cream only about twice a year, cholesterol-containing offal is off the menu and I don’t overdo the eggs. I am the one on statins while my mother, who didn’t give up any of the above, never had a cholesterol problem in her life.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog