Sunday, November 09, 2008

Lardy, Lardy!

Last night I attempted to render some lard. Good God Why! you might ask. Why not is my answer. I've been dieting heavily for the past few months and cooking and the thing that I am becoming more sure of is, there is nothing bad for you, well except for HFCS and aspartame and to some degree soy, but that is another post. It is all, ALL, a matter of moderation.

I don't know why we have become so antilardian. Damn food Nazis. Recipes that do call for lard call for reasonably small amounts. I suppose there is an issue if you eat the entire pan of biscuits, but then again your issue is greater than just the lard content. Lard has no trans fatty acids, less total fat than butter and has less negative cholesterol impact on you (don't take Wikipedia's word for it, check the USDA). And I can make it myself.

I read up on-line about rendering your own lard. See below for some of my references. In the end I did it my own way, for boetter or for worse.

As an initial experiment, I didn't want to invest a lot, so I used salt fatback which is as common as candy down here in the South at every grocery. Not the best source but cheap and easy to get. I thought being packed in salt would be an issue so first I rinsed the two slabs well and then I blanched them in boiling water for a minute.

Now that I had removed the salt as best I could, I scored the two slabs into cubes and then sliced the cubes off of the thick pork skin. Then I threw it all into my Staub Round Cocotte (Dutch oven)and covered the fat with water. I'm not sure if throwing the skin into the pot was smart or not but this was my first attempt.

I set the pot on the stove on low heat (3 on my electric range) and let it simmer away until there was only about a half inch of water left. It took probably six hours. I chose to use the stove rather than the oven just so I could keep an eye on it easier.

I strained the renderings through a fine sieve and put the half cup or so of lard in the fridge to solidify. Cheesecloth would probably have worked better. I think it turned out ok. I'm not sure, I didn't get the cracklins that everyone talks about. Now I just need to make some bread or something to try it out. If it seems like it's right, I hit a local butcher up for some proper pork fat.

Next I'm going to try making tallow.

Online references:
Make Your Own Lard
Homemade Lard
Rendering Lard: A First-Timer's Guide


Brook said...

I think- having done a great recipe, uh if you want I can share it, that you boil the fat until the water is gonae and continue to boil the fat until the pieces of skin have also rendered their fat and become crispy, use your spider to skim the crispy skin bits and any meat from the top and so on. Waiting til the water is completely gone is the most important step, I think.

Huff Daddy said...

Thanks. I think you are right, I'm just not boiling down long enough. Fear of burning to the bottom I guess. I'll try your approach on the next batch.