Monday, February 27, 2012

Lardy, Lardy, this is easy!

The hardest part about making your own lard is not the making, but the getting. Of the pork fat. For myself, its a drive to Amarillo, to Edes Meats. Which is ok really because there's always a few other things I like to get while I'm there. Steaks, sausages, cheese, everything is good at Edes Meats. They make THE BEST jerky.

You will need a source of pork fat. Some people like to buy fat from certain areas of the animal to make lard for different things. I hear the fat from around the kidneys makes the best lard for pastries. But I'm not a pastry maker. So I'm not picky about what kind of pork fat it is. Just good clean pork fat.

By clean I mean free of meat. If there is meat still attached to the fat, you will want to trim it off.

I usually use about 8 pounds of pork fat on a lard making day. From Edes, it comes frozen. You will want to thaw it partially. But if its left a little icy, its much easier to work with.

You need room to work and a good sharp knife. An apron is a good idea. You are gonna get messy.

There are several ways to do this. I use the slow-cooker method. Its easy-peasy.

Seriously, if you have fried bacon, you can make lard. All you are doing it cooking the fat out. Liquifying it, just as you do when you fry bacon. Only we're letting a slow-cooker do all the work.

Cut the fat into cubes. I cut mine into about 1/2" cubes. Put them in the slow-cooker. This does take some time. And it is messy. But so worth it.

Cut, cut, cut, toss. Cut, cut, cut, toss. Until the cooker is full. You can actually heap it a bit, as long as you can get the lid on.

Turn on to low. Stir occasionally. Slowly but surely the fat will release its liquid goodness. It is done when the fat cubes are browned and crunchy. Guess what! You made crackins! And they're good! Dip them out with a slotted spoon into a paper-towel lined bowl. Snack on them!

Shut off the slow cooker and let the lard cool a bit, for safer handling.

I have some screw-top zip-lock containers that I just love! I use them to freeze my chicken stock in, and I use them to freeze my lard in. Fill your freezable containers to within 1/2" or so of the top, and freeze. (Keep one in the fridge, it keeps a long time) I like to write the date and LARD on a strip of masking tape on the lid.

As the lard cools, it turns white.

When you heat the lard to cook, as it gets hot, you will notice the characteristic lard smell. This smell only lasts a short while, is faint, and you will not taste it in the food. I cook with this stuff all the time. Your food wont taste "like lard."

It makes the flakiest pie crusts (crisco has nothing on lard in this respect) and it is healthy for you, despite what the diet dictocrats would have you believe. Much healthier than man made stuff like crisco and vegetable oils. And because you made it yourself, its healthier than the lard you buy at the store. To extend shelf-life, ie: make it more profitable, the store bought lard has been hydrogenated. Hydrogenation creates trans-fats.

Lard makes the best fried chicken. MMM hhhmmmmm

Lard (and butter) make the best biscuits!

So now you know! Making your own healthy lard is easy as pie! See your butcher about some pork fat today!

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