Lard

lard_14.jpgA few weeks ago, the Chronicle Food Section ran a story by James Temple called Loving Lard. While noting the bad rep of lard, it focused on top restaurants that are using lard for its nutrition and flavor. It included a detailed history of cooking fat, as well, from lard to Crisco, to “the other white meat” and back to the present yearning for flavor, moist, flavorful pork and yes, lard.This came at an appropriate time, as there have been enough murmurings in the foodie community to raise my curiosity and desire to cook with lard myself; but I didn’t know where to start. Viola! The article, as well as educating me, told me where to go.At the Golden Gate Meat counter at the Ferry Building on Saturday morning, I asked a butcher if they had lard. “Do you want the leaf lard?” he asked. Remembering something about leaf lard being the best, I said yes, and he handed me a shrink-wrapped packet of white matter, about two pounds.When I got home, I whacked off a bit and melted it to fry some potatoes for breakfast. Yum.I re-read the article and learned that my leaf lard needed to be rendered, a simple, but two-day process. This is what it looks like.

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leaf lard comes from the area around the abdomen and kidneys

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my meat grinder handed down from my mother… or perhaps her mother

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ground lard ready to go in the pot

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in the pot with about 2 quarts water, this has cooked about 2 hours… the recipe said to cook at about 170 degrees, but I couldn’t get it below 200

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after 6 hours, the lard is ready to cool

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I’ve poured the rendered lard into a bowl and its ready to refigerate

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after a night in the fridge, the lard has separated from the water

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discard the water and melt the lard

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and pour it into a jar

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refrigerate, and it’s ready to scoop out and use

A taste test: Put a scoop, not too much, in a heavy skillet, slice your potato, arrange the slices in the skillet and cook until tender.

YUM

 

 

 

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One thought on “Lard

  1. Lard is just rendered fat from pigs whereas “tallow” is usually used to refer to rendered fat from cows, horses, sheep, etc. I don’t know why. I do know that there are three kinds of fat in a pig; leaf (kidney) fat, found inside the body cavity surrounding the kidneys near the spine; back fat, found under the skin from the neck to the rump and down the sides into the belly (bacon); and leg fat, found under the skin in the cheeks, around the shanks and hams. Leaf fat is “brittle” when it’s cold; back fat is stiff but pliable; leg fat is very soft. Leaf fat does make the nicest lard and the highest volume rendered per pound, but you can render any of these fats as Marc demonstrates separately, or mixed.

    [Read Corby Kummer’s excellent defense of lard in the NYT here.]

    When canning lard, you want to be careful about any moisture at the bottom of the can, which will be anoxic (no source of oxygen) and makes it a perfect place for botulism spores to grow. If you keep the can in the refrigerator and use it up in a matter of weeks, you don’t have to worry, but if you want to store the lard “over the winter” or beyond at shelf temp (which is very possible), you need to make sure there is NO moisture in your canned lard. For that reason I render lard directly over a low flame with no water at all. The trick here is to keep the temp steady at 200 deg F to 230 deg F, and prevent the membrane bits from sticking to the bottom of the pan and then burning, ruining the flavor of your beautiful fat.

    Also, it’s true that lard has fewer calories and less saturated fat than butter! Enjoy.

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