Lard. Lard. Lard. Lard. Lard. Maybe if I say it enough it won’t sound so lardy?
I read Real Food by Nina Planck several months (maybe even a year) ago. It’s like In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, but more simplistic. Both have their merits, but I took away more from Real Food probably because it was easier to digest. Though, In Defense of Food may go further in convincing any skeptics that low-fat is a bunch of bologna.
Back to lard: In Planck’s book, she talks about fatty acids, raw milk, real meat, and all sorts of interesting stuff. She raves about coconut oil, which I haven’t yet tried. She also lauds lard. Surprisingly, lard seemed more accessible to me because it doesn’t impart any porky flavor, while coconut oil may be more limiting as a cooking fat because of the flavor. Plus, it seems lard is the key ingredient for delicious baking, refried beans, tortillas, fried chicken—decidedly awesome things to have in my culinary arsenal.
I bought some pig fat from Rowdy Stickhorse and stored it in the freezer until one brave weekend when our friends, Chelsey and Jeff, visited. Matt and Jeff bottled beer. Chelsey and I rendered lard (we also made pasta, but that’s another post).
It’s a simple process that I managed to screw up. You just put the cubed pig fat into a dutch oven with 1/2 cup or so of water. Cook it on the stove top over medium low until it is fully melted (rendered) and the cracklings sink to the bottom. Apparently lard can burn very easily. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention. I had to transfer the lard to a different burner, so, to compensate, I cranked up the heat on the new burner. Once it started smelling bad, I realized what happened and turned down the heat. After the render was complete, we tested the cracklings. Hopes were high from the inspiring and beautiful blog entry on Homesick Texan, but the cracklings tasted like charred bacon. That was the first clue that the lard experiment was not successful. The second clue was the color. Rendered lard is supposed to be white. Ours was a caramel color. Clue #3: Chelsey took some home and made a pie crust. It stunk up the house and the crust tasted foul. Bummer! But we won’t be deterred! I’m ordering more pork fat in December’s co-op order.
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Chelsey slicing the lard. According to Wikipedia, pork fat can be called lard in both its rendered and raw forms.