"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lard Lover

Yup, I admit it - freely, proudly, unashamedly. I am a lard-lover. All day long, I have been slowly, lovingly rendering several pounds of pork-fat into lard. It's not hard - all you have to do is heat the fat over medium heat and stir every half-hour or so. It's almost unbelievable how beguiling is the smell in my kitchen. It smells like bacon, but smoother, richer, softer.... it's like bacon in love.

Lard, of course, is wonderful all by itself. Long live the immortal Calvin Trillian and his battle cry - "fried in pure lard!" Anything from a donut to an ethereal piece of fried chicken is made magic by baptism in pure pork fat. That's just not in question. It looks like I will be getting a gallon or so of pure, white, sweet manteca... surely cause for rejoicing. I plan to pour it through cheesecloth into half-gallon mason jars and refrigerate them to be used by the tablespoon well into summer.

But I didn't realize that I would be getting a major bonus. As the fat melts, the skin and connective tissue left behind has turned into chicharrones. For those who are unfamiliar with these gorgeous, delicious snacks, maybe you will remember them as "cracklings" from the Laura and Mary books. They are the deep brown, crispy-crunchy morsels left over from the rendering process. I suppose there are many ways to eat them, but I like the Mexican way, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and plenty of hot sauce.

Just now I scooped them out of the stock-pot full 'o lard with a wide sieve and threw them onto cookie-sheets covered with several layers of newspaper to drain. The liquid lard I am pouring through my melitta coffee filter into wide mouth mason jars. Looks like about a gallon, just as I thought.

Yummy-yummy-yum-yum. I feel terribly decadent. Sinful, almost. Pray for me!


Garden Lily said...

It's funny, how lard and other natural fats have been given such bad PR, so even the word "lard" makes me inadvertently cringe. Yet now we are learning how dangerous all those hydrogenated fats (and whatever else they do to vegetable oils to make them solidify), and how lard is a "good" fat.

I remember many years ago, trying to caramelize butter, and I substituted margarine in the recipe. The smell and black stuff it turned into was absolutely disgusting. Ever since then, I will not bake or fry with margarine, only butter.

Tonia said...

I have never had cracklins but those look good!! I use real butter only. I have used lard before but not fresh like that.. hmmm I may have to do that sometime.. I think the key to any of it is Moderation and Natural!!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Mmmmm. Lard.

Rachel B. said...

I recall while reading "In Defense of Food" that lard is now a good fat. Go figure. But, heck, it tastes better than veggie oils.

Olive said...

Ooooooooooooh !! delicious, but think of the thighs, don't eat it all in one sitting (lol)
You can do the same with duck skin, on a muck smaller scale of course..then its called Quackling !

Aimee said...

Olive you quack me up!