How can I remove excess fat from stews or soups without refrigerating?
I've read that adding cork (from wine bottles) absorbs the fat. I'm not sure if this works or not.
Are there any other ways to remove excess fat without standing there and spooning out or refrigerating and then removing the solidified fat?
Most of the answers are very good, so I won't add to them. But I will say that adding a wine cork is almost guaranteed to be a failure, apart from whatever fat just happens to stick to the outside. They are not absorbent (in any meaningful way). Indeed, that's why they are used to keep the wine in the bottle instead of soaking it up! Also, I recommend against putting anything in your soup that isn't a cooking utensil or food. But maybe that's just me.
If you want to be really lazy about it, just get yourself a fat separator. Pour in the soup, the fat will rise to the top, and you can do what you want with it (i.e. dump it).
If you're reading this in an emergency, you can do this with just a strainer. You'll get better results if you chill the strainer before each skim, i.e. by rinsing it with very cold water. The fat will tend to congeal on the cold strainer the same way it congeals when it's actually chilled.
I've also heard that the fat will cling to certain leafy vegetables, like lettuce. If you have a lettuce head kicking around, try peeling off a leaf and dusting the top of the pan with it.
You can also drag a paper towel across the top, especially when the fat layer is very thin.
I am going to try the paper towel hope it works!!