Sunday, April 11, 2010

Smooth goodness

I wanted to steal Julie vanRosendaal's title "Live, Love, Lard", but that just wouldn't be right. She's the one who got me interested in trying this though.

I've been saving bacon fat for a while now, but we don't actually eat a lot of bacon. When we do, I let the fat solidify and scoop the creamy white stuff into a tiny mason jar in the fridge. Then I use it to fry meat and onions. Bacon and bacon fat make everything better.

I've also started using TenderFlake shortening a lot more lately because the price of butter is getting to be so high. I've been steering away from margarines for a while now and lard seemed like a good way to do it. Although the ingredients of Tenderflake seem pure (pork lard being the first on the short list), there must be something done to it to make it shelf stable without refridgeration. I'm not sure what they do to it.

Anyway, I went into a small butchershop that Rosa has found recently. Well, I always knew it was there but had never gone in - oh, how my grocery shopping days have changed lately! Anywho, I went it and asked out of curiousity if they had pork fat. He knew exactly what my plans were and recommended ordering 4 pounds of it (to make about 2 pounds of lard) and he would coarsely chop it for me. It costs me $2 for locally raised pork fat. After telling Rosa about it (I thought she would be grossed out), she ordered the same amount.

It did not look or smell very appetising when I first put it into the cast iron pan on a very low setting. I thought it would smell like bacon, but it hasn't been cured in salt or anything, so there is little resemblance. After it started to render and melt down, I put it in the oven on 200 degrees and went to bed.

We woke up to find this.

The fat had all rendered and just needed to be strained through a cheesecloth. It smelled better in the morning than it had at night.

After straining it, I was left with 5 cups of melted lard. I poured it into mason jars to cool and then will put them into the freezer until I want to do some baking. I think I'll start using it in my bread recipes.

Patting his round belly, the butcher also told me that I'd end up with crispy bacon-y bits for tossing on baked potatoes, perogies and salad. Not wanting a matching belly, I'll have to be careful with that. I did fry these up a bit because they weren't as crispy as I wanted and I added some salt too. Without being a cured piece of pork, they don't actually taste very much like bacon, but yummy all the same. The salt helps.

It looks yummy and crunchy and we're going to try it on perogies today. Then I'll resist temptation to sprinkle it on everything by freezing it and hope it doesn't freeze in one solid clump.

After cooling on the counter all day, the lard now looks like this. It's not quite as white as I thought it would be, but the texture looks perfect.

Minimal work (most is done by the oven while I sleep), so I'll do it again when I run out. You certainly can't buy much butter for $2 and this is always soft and workable.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We render fat here, too. I get the trim back from the butcher when we have lambs or calves butchered, and I cook it all down and save the fat (the meat goes to the dogs). Usually it's so mixed I end up heating the meat/fat mix in water, then pulling out the meat and bones as the day goes along then letting the fat cool on top of the water. You get a nice chunk of clean fat when it cools (although sometimes it needs a second chop/rinse/melt round to get it really clean).

I use the beef tallow for frying eggs and so on, haven't tried baking with it yet - maybe I should!

Oh, you can heat the ground fat in your crock pot, too, if you want to do the 'leave it and ignore it' strategy. Depends primarily on whether your oven or your power cost you less, I suspect.