Once upon a time, most persons raised their own meat and had ample lard due to the necessity of using the whole animal. With modern conveniences and ample fats for sale at our local grocer we might not think to render our own lard. However, I am here to encourage you to try it out. The flavor profile and moist texture in home baked goods really shows when using lard.
- 2 pounds leaf fat or kidney fat from pasture raised pigs
- 1/4 cup water
- Large pot (I like to use my dutch oven)
1. Start out with cold fat and cut into small half inch to 1 inch chunks (the smaller the better), making sure to cut out any blood spots or remaining meat from the fat.
2. Place 1/4 cup water and the diced fat in large pot on the stove and simmer over medium low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The key is to keep the temperature verylow. If you render the fat too quickly, it's more likely to result in a “piggy” taste and golden color. It’ll still be usable, but not ideal for baked goods unless you want to also taste the "piggy" flavor.
3. You are looking for the bits of browned fat (these are the “cracklins”) to rise to the top, leaving clear, liquid fat underneath.
4. Strain the liquid fat by lining a strainer with either a piece of cheese cloth, coffee filter or paper towel) and store in glass jars. Although you can leave it out at room temperature, it will last a longer in the fridge or freezer. So that is usually what I do.
Some of my favorite things to use lard for are for making pie crusts and biscuits. However, I also love to just rub lard on veggies before I grill or roast them. I also use lard in soups and stews where oil is called for.