Way back on one of the old Usenet food groups, Pam asked about making lard from a fresh-butchered pig. Imogen and Madelin responded.
The basic ingredient is the same in both cases: pig fat. Madelin’s recipe, straight from her Gram, also calls for unsalted butter.
Why would you want lard from pork? Because it makes the best pastry of any grease. It’ll work for rough-and-tumble vegetable pastries (really, it’s the only thing useful for that), as well as light dessert pastries. I’ve even resorted, in desperation, to the leftover grease from over-salted bacon when making pies, and it’s still better than butter or, dare I even mention it in the same paragraph, vegetable oil.
Steps for Madelin’s Lard
- Take the fat and dice it roughly. Try not to include any scraps of meat. The fat around the kidneys is considered choicest.
- Put the diced fat, which you have weighed, into a large kettle with a couple tablespoons of water.
- Heat it over moderate heat until completely rendered and clear and the water has evaporated off. You should have clear, unbrowned fat, with some brown bits in the bottom.
- Now, according to my Gram, comes the “secret” part. For each 10 pounds of lard that you started with, add 1 pound of best quality unsalted butter and let it stand in the fat til melted. Mix gently and ladle off the lard into crocks or however you plan to store it in a cool place. Be sure to get only the clear stuff.
- Drain the brown bits and top a green salad with them.
Steps for Imogen’s Lard
Hi Pam, nothing simpler than making lard! The fresh fett from under the skin should be passed through a meatgrinder. Your butcher will do this, when you have your meat cut. Take small portions and heat them in a large, shallow pot. Safety is very important here!
- Keep a tightfitting lid handy in case the fat catches fire.
- Use a stainless steel pot, if you have one. They are easiest to clean later.
- Use a wooden scraper to constantly loosen the fat from the bottom of the pot. Plastic ones are no good as they will melt.
- Keep a metal ladle and warm, heatproof jars handy to fill as the lard dissolves.
- Continuously remove liquid lard as it becomes available.
- Try to push the raw fat under, so it can dissolve versus the rest spitting all over the place, while it starts to roast.
- When all your fat is crisp and your lard out, remove pot from the hot element immediately.
- Never try to refill your pot. Always do one batch at a time!
- If you want to use the fried fat later, freeze it in small portions. It is very greasy. Little portions go well though in spagetti sauce, for example.
- You should either pressure-can your lard or simply freeze it. Besides for cooking purposes it tastes well as breadspread on Pumpernickel with cheese or just plain with a dash of salt.
- Good luck and be careful. This advice comes to you from a porkfarmer!
- Never leave the hot grease on the stove out of your sight!
Notes from Imogen
Hope I didn’t sound like a preacher, but over the decades that I have been doing this, I have seen too much go wrong. Besides some nasty little burns from spitting grease I have so far always been lucky.
- Pie crust
- Tamale dough
- Breadspread (with cheese or a dash of salt)
- Cardiac arrest
I know nothing about these recipes, and have never tried them. I have tried pie crust with both lard and bacon fat, and they’re awesome.