Diner’s dictionary Defining unfamiliar menu terms

A bread flight made up of beef tallow biscuit (clockwise, from left), sourdough pretzel and cornbread is served at Spero on Meeting Street.

Most biscuit lovers are familiar with lard, or rendered pork fat. Tallow is just like lard, except it’s made from beef or mutton fat.

Beyond the kitchen, tallow is used to lubricate engines, condition leather, harden soaps and fuel jets. In a culinary context, though, it’s prized for its flavor and high smoke point. “Real food” advocates champion tallow as a natural alternative to the hydrogenated fats commonly found at the supermarket.

Spero

(Beef tallow biscuits, $5)

If you’re ready to do your own rendering, you can typically purchase beef fat from a butcher or farmer. Otherwise, there are numerous online sources for tallow, including fatworksfoods.com, which sells a 14-ounce jar of beef tallow and 8-ounce jar of buffalo tallow for $32.12, plus shipping. If tallow is properly sealed, it doesn’t require refrigeration.

Until 1990, every McDonald’s french fry was cooked in tallow. Now the fast food chain uses vegetable oil for frying, but tallow is still smeared on the burger buns at Husk.

Hanna Raskin