How To Expertly Skim The Fat Off Stews And Sauces

Of all the things that seasoned cooks love to whip up in the kitchen, soups, stews, and sauces are often among their very favorites. That's because these dishes are composed of slowly built-up and layered flavors, such as sautéed onions, garlic, herbs, and other aromatics, with the addition of ingredients like tomatoes, broth, and vegetables along the way. These hearty mixtures are simmered for hours, developing a depth of flavor that tastes even more special when shared with friends and family. Some of the best examples of long-cooking dishes include beef bourguignon, vegetable soup, and Bolognese sauce.

One minor issue that frequently arises — literally — when preparing stews and sauces is the layer of fat that appears on the surface of the dish when it's finished cooking. Thanks to unctuous ingredients such as butter, oil, and, especially, cuts of meat simmering in the pot, a scummy top section rises over the liquid. While fat tastes delicious in moderation, too much of it can sometimes detract from a dish, making it taste greasy or appear muddled. That's where skimming the fat comes in.

Use ice to harden the fat and make it easier to skim

Luckily, there's an easy solution to get rid of this excess fat. According to Greatist, all you need are a few ice cubes and some paper towels. Simply wrap the ice cubes in paper towels or a piece of cheesecloth, then run the ice over the surface of your soup, stew, or sauce. The ice will help solidify the fat, which can then be removed easily with a slotted spoon, ladle, or fine-mesh skimmer.

Don't have any ice in the freezer? If there's room in your fridge, cover your pot and refrigerate it for six to eight hours until the liquid is thoroughly chilled and the fat rises to the top and hardens. Then use your kitchen tool of choice to lift the congealed substance off the surface (via Better Homes & Gardens). There you have it: Delicious soups, stews, and sauces — without the excess grease.