Rendering Lard – Dos and Don’ts

We split a half pig with Addie and Drew and last time I asked, the butcher gave me more fat than I knew what to do with. I don’t think many people ask for it… This time around it was nicely wrapped and separated into the different kinds of fat (back fat, leaf lard, maybe something else.) I rendered it down using the same technique as last time. I tried to get fancy this time by cooling it in a 9×13 pan lined with waxed paper, which I thought would just pop right out of the pan once the lard was hardened in the refrigerator.

Nope. It was stuck, bad. I ended up having to set the pan in a bath of hot water to melt the fat on the edges to release it from the pan, and the whole this was a slippery mess. Eventually I ended up with nice, wrapped portions of lard, but it was an adventure getting there. I’ll need to figure out a better method for next year.

As always, the pie crusts made with lard are really amazing. I haven’t been that impressed with much else – I had high hopes for biscuits but they just tasted a little greasy. For some reason on a crust, the flavor backs off and the fat gives an amazing flaky texture. We made a leek tart right away just to confirm. Yep, still tasty and amazing.

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A Leek for Spring

There were a few random daffodil and tulip bulbs in the front bed of our house when we bought it that I thought we’d managed to dig out last year to make room for vegetables. But this year another one popped up, and kept growing and growing. I finally needed the space for the things I’m actually going to grow there (cherry tomatoes) so I decided it was time to dig it out.

As soon as I pulled it out of the ground, a garlicky-oniony scent overwhelmed me. Turns out it wasn’t a flower, but a leek, and an enormous one at that. Just about big enough to be a new child in the family, with a fine head of hair (look at the picture if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)

Our asparagus patch has finally started bursting, and I figured out that the lard I rendered last year makes the most wonderful pie crust, so a leek tart with asparagus and feta was in the cards. Yum.

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Rendering Lard

When bought half a pig this spring, I asked for the fat, which they don’t usually send home with you. You wouldn’t believe the huge bag that came with our pork chops, ham, and bacon. That pig put on some serious layers of winter warmth.

I’ve been meaning to render the fat into lard. I found a really fantastic post about it from a blog called Homesick Texan (whose carnitas recipe I also have to try).

Fat gets a bad rap these days, but doing it the old-fashioned way at least eliminates the trans fats. I don’t really have a plan for it, so I poured it into a 9 x 13 pan, refrigerated it, and then cut it up and wrapped it in waxed paper like cubes of butter, ready for the freezer. Maybe I’ll try it in some pie crust, some biscuits, or maybe it’ll just be something to fry potatoes in.

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