Recipe: Lard

March 29, 2010 | Updated: July 30, 2010 | See also: Dietary Fat, Recipe: Pastry, |

Update July: second attempt went much better, with chopped up fat instead of ground. Much more lard per pound (I got a little more with 5 pounds than I did with 10 pounds of ground, and faster).

Why Lard?

I have read a lot recently about fat: namely that it seems much of the "common knowledge" about fat causing heart problems is bunk (see Dietary Fat for more). It seems that fat from pastured pigs, besides being tasty and allegedly good for pie crusts also contains beneficial nutrition. So, lets make some!


Pig Fat

I got some nice pork fat from Spragg's Meats (they also have a stall at Calgary Farmer's Market) and looked up some recipes on Teh Intarnets, for example here, here or ask the oracle. This one is good too.

During my first attemp, I ordered the fat ground. This is a bad idea. Get it however it comes, and then cut it into cubes or chunks about a couple centimeters square. I put some water (I think around 2 cups for 5 pounds) into the bottom of our biggest stock pot, put all the fat in and turned the stove to as low as it would go. Do this outside if at all possible (I learned the hard way), as it doesn't smell awesome.

About an hour later, there was a not very pleasant smell in the pot and some bubbling fat. Two hours later, I decided it was "done", strained in through a seive into jars and went to bed. The next day, glorious-looking white and nearly odourless lard was waiting in the jars. Woo!

The second attempt was better, but I still didn't get "cracklings" as promised. Maybe next time. Not sure, but I suspect I had a too-big pot (i.e. lots of surface area, not a lot of volume) and not enough temperature.

Worth It?

I made a quiche and an apple pie a couple days later. As the experiments with savoury pies and leftover bacon fat hinted at, the crust was indeed very good. I am always surprised at how soft the pastry from bacon fat or lard feels when shaping and rolling. It is indeed much more flaky and tasty than using just butter for the pastry. Crap like Crisco? No thanks.

It is very worth it to use lard for things that "need" it like pastry or heavy-duty frying, it does NOT taste like pig/pork and is very good for you (at least, if you use some nice pasture-raised pork; see Spragg's link above). I have never seen good quality (read: not Tenderflake) lard for sale anywhere, and although not very expensive I think it's worth it to make some every couple months.

See my recipe for Pastry for how to use your new lard for something tasty.

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