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.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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!