Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rendering Leaf Lard

Rendered Leaf Lard
I'm supposed to be planning a birthday party which is why I'm not. Surely you can appreciate the call of the sirens. If only someone would strap me to the ship's mast, I might pass through the treacherous duties of motherhood intact and on task.

After our trip to Disney, I felt obliged to purchase some organic farm fresh you know where the dirt is that they were grown in vegetables. I went to the farmer's market to get a few things. I opted to stock the fridge with quick pickles so that I could have them handy for dinner and dining at all times to encourage more vegetable snacking.  

I got waylaid by the aseptic jar of white lard by one of my favorite pig men-- a heritage breeder. He talked me into purchasing some leaf lard with an explanation of how to do it. I probably should have googled it before I started. However, in the grand tradition of being myself, I went by the seat of my pants.

A few tips. 
1. "Cut it up as small as you feel like," the farmer said. A hack here, a hack there. The pieces were bigger toward then end because, well, I bought a lot. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon enough-- I saw the Christmas trees being installed at Sea World. However, grinding it is not out of the question. 

2. Put the pieces into a pot (I used my dutch oven).

3. There was some mention of a bit of water in the bottom of the pan, but I dismissed that idea. Instead I started out low and slow which I do with nearly everything I cook irregardless of the directions (except for searing meat) because of my tendency to do many things at the same time. This turned out to be a good thing. Cook it low and slow-- some even mention doing it in the oven or a crockpot. I'm not enamored of the crockpot; I keep resisting-- maybe it was cheese soup in the nineties?

4. Cook it until the pieces of skin start to fry in the oil a bit-- remove them and cook them more later to obtain a whiter odorless end product. The point is to get all of the moisture out and release the fat. The pieces of skin will become your crackling' so keep that in mind for the color that you eventually want them to be-- a golden brown. You can eat the crackling' but add some salt or spicy stuff. I'm pretty sure this was a food even W. eats, admittedly I don't.

5. Strain the liquid fat through cheese cloth to strain the bits off. Pour the fat into a jar and allow it to cool-down. Store the rendered leaf lard in the fridge or freezer, if you have the space.

Leaf lard is prized for baking. For some more thoughts on leaf lard, try this, which I read after the fact.

No, I'm not planning to put it into the birthday cake, but there may be a pie crust soon with it. I do like pie.

Package of Leaf Lard from the Farmer's Market

Leaf Lard still slightly frozen

Slightly frozen is easier to chop

Chopped pieces into the pot and over low heat
Scoop out the cracklin' before it browns (cook more later)
Use cheese cloth in a strainer; carefully pour the hot liquid fat through it.
Filtered, it now needs to cool-down