Sheeptail Fat

Sheeptail Fat 

Sheeptail Fat – the rendered fat from the tail of the Cape or Afrikander sheep, which was much sought after by settlers from the 18th century onwards. The soft fat was often preferred to butter and it was also used extensively in baked dishes as well as in pastries and cakes such as gingerbread. The fat-tailed sheep has now been supplanted by the popular Merino and those lucky enough to slaughter their own sheep can still get hold of a fat sheep’s tail.

Many traditional South African recipes call for sheeptail fat. Cubes of sheeptail fat inserted alternately with cubes of lamb improve the flavour and juiciness of sosaties.

Rendering the fat was part of the weekly routine on the farm. The bony tail section or “stertjie” is sometimes added to a bean stew or it can be added to the rest of the fat. When the fat is rendered down and poured off the remaining crispy brown “kaiings” make a tasty delicacy, either on their own or when eaten with bread or pap.

To render fat: Mince fat or cut into small pieces and place in a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until all the water has evaporated and the clear fat remains. While hot, pour through a sieve into a suitable sturdy container.

Category: South African Cuisine

Subcategory: Traditional