Rendering Pork Fat to make Leaf Lard for Pie Pastry
When I rendered my own cooking lard a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised by the reaction of some readers. Rendering one’s own fat was “way out there”. I wanted to do a pork belly confit and wouldn’t think of doing it with pastry lard. Rendering my own was the only way to go. I have done it before, but not on such a large scale. I never use margarine. I use butter and olive oil and now, self-rendered lard. I try to make everything I can from scratch including mayonnaise and salad dressings. Both are so easy and eat up a grocery budget as well as one’s insides. I can’t always so it, but I try. If I haven’t homemade bread, we will buy buns, but I do really work to make my kitchen a sustainable from scratch work place that creates healthy, delicious nutritious and mainly economical meals. I have no problem splurging, either. But, feel it is essential to know what things cost, what they should cost, usually cost, and what I am paying to run my household as well as the nutritional value in the food I place on our table at meal times.
Alan Irvine sells Berkshire boar fat for $0.50 a pound as long as you order it ahead, at almost every local market around Edmonton. The lard I rendered for cooking comes off of the back and sides of the pig. This fat comes from around the kidneys and loin of the pig and is called leaf lard fat. I learned this from Kevin Kossowan. Alan learned it from Kevin, too. I haven’t used my leaf lard for pastry yet, but when I do, I plan to make pastry with mine and with Kevin’s. Then we will compare our pastries with the Tenderflake brand (we will make one using it, too). That will have to wait until Kevin renders his. It will be a great learning experience and a fun taste test, me thinks! (Yes, that is 50 cents a pound.)
The other piece was a shade smaller than this one. I had about 5 pounds of fat. I should have been more specific and asked for 10 pounds. I had only asked if he could get me some. When you do it, you want to do a lot. It isn’t all that messy, but it takes the same amount of time to do twice as much, so I “should have” had twice as much. (Note to self, and to you.)
I did exactly the same thing as I did when rendering pork fat for cooking: cut it into pieces and fried it on medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly until the liquid fat covers the bottom.
Once there is a good layer of liquid fat on the bottom of the pan, the fat pieces will no longer stick to it. You do not want them to stick to the pan our your product will have brown specks in it.
Keep stirring. When fried, you can see this leaf lard fat is actually a different texture and the cubes curl into different shapes than the cooking lard fat. Who knew that when rendering pork fat there are two kinds of fat to render. The leaf lard fat creates a much finer, flavourless lard sought after for making the flakiest of pastries.
At this point, you no longer need to stir, but don’t go far away. Turn the heat to medium so that nothing burns and stay within eyesight so that your pieces do not go too brown. You want nice light white lard.
This looks good. Vanja wasn’t home and he said I could have let it go a couple of minutes longer, until each fatty bit is crisp. Some where a little soggy. But, this is good unless you want to eat the crispy little bits of Crapola left in the pan! (and I think someone did want to!)
So interesting: one batch was quite stinky while the other was not. The stinky package was cooked the same way, but is much darker. It was the one in the blue pan. I do not understand why. Someone has said maybe the leaf lard came from a male pig.
I used mini loaf pans to shape my lard bricks. Use plastic wrap or parchment paper to completely covering the pan as mine didn’t “pop” out. What was I thinking? Sometimes I wonder about myself. In any case, you can see I realized four 2 cup bricks and one 3/4 cup brick from my 5 pounds of rendered pork fat for #2.80. I know exactly what is in it and when it was made. Can’t beat that. It took me about 40 minutes from start to finish.
The following day Vanja scraped the bars out of the pan for me. Aren’t they masterful? I feel so proud accomplishing the smallest of domestic tasks! And, all four were the same “white”: two weren’t darker as the oil from them was when poured into the molds. That was odd.
They are all wrapped up and waiting to be baked into a Saskatoon pie! I haven’t used any Saskatoons that were frozen from our garden this summer. Time to think about that!