Now, canola oil works just fine and there will be no complaints from anyone eating those fries if that is the oil you use. Trust me. But do you remember what McDonalds used to use to fry their french fries before all this craziness about fats began? Yup, beef tallow. And they used it because A) It has a really, really high smoke point, which makes it perfect for deep fat frying when temperatures get insanely high and B) It supposedly makes for the best-tasting fries.
I say supposedly only because I can't really remember what McDonalds fries tasted like when they were still using the tallow. And I had never made my own with tallow. Which, it occurred to me, is frankly ridiculous considering the quantity of suet I have in my freezer.
Suet is the fat just as it comes off the cow (from around the kidneys, in case you were curious). Tallow is the pure fat that you get after you simmer the suet to separate the oil from the impurities. You strain the oil and that oil is tallow. The solids left are called cracklin's*.
I looked up various ways to render the tallow. Some involved the stove top; some involved the oven; some called for just cutting the suet into small cubes; some suggested cutting the cubes, partially freezing them, and then shredding them in your food processor.
A food processor full of shredded suet seemed pretty gross to me. Also unnecessary work. So I just cut the suet up into little cubes, about an inch square.
Because of the amount of suet I was starting with--which I didn't weigh but totally filled my big 6-quart Crock-Pot--it took quite awhile to cut the suet into cubes. Also, it made my hand cramp, because suet is pretty firm. It's waxy, like candles, and requires some force to cut through. And then, when you've been handling it awhile, your hands get all greasy and slippery, which adds to the fun (and safety!) of using a knife.
But once the suet was all cut up into pieces and and I managed to keep all my fingers intact, I just dumped it all in my Crock-Pot and let it go. See, fats like tallow and lard are rendered at a very low heat over a long time, which is exactly what a Crock-Pot is for. So I saw no reason to monitor anything on the stove when I could just forget it for six hours or so.
I started it on high to get the melting going, then I switched it to low and left it. It was done after about six hours, but I didn't get to straining it until a couple of hours after that. Didn't matter, though. I just switched it to warm to keep it liquid until I could strain it.
I strained it through both a fine mesh strainer and cheese cloth, pressing on the solids to extract all the oil. Next time, I think I'll just use the strainer, though.
And there was my tallow. A little over half a gallon of tallow, to be specific.
That's a lot of french fries.
I haven't actually used any of the tallow yet, but oh, I will. Beefy french fries, here I come . . .