Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rendering Lard

I just rendered my first batch of lard, made from the kidney fat from our own Mulefoot hogs. Isn't it gorgeous--there to the right? I've been reading up on traditional cooking, in particular Nina Planck's Real Food, and I am a 100% convert to "real" fats. No more "healthy" canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil or safflower oil! Planck documents, quite convincingly, that these oils are relatively new industrial creations, and are the real cause of obesity, heart disease and all the other modern diseases we Americans have been plagued with since switching to an industrial diet. These oils are present in just about every processed food on grocery store shelves.

As it turns out, there are all sorts of things our bodies need in traditional fats like lard, beef tallow, and butter, especially, and Planck gives us the research, the science and the dissenting views in her book. Most disturbing is how margarine is made and what's in it (metal particles, rancid vegetable oil, soaplike emulsifiers, bleach). I'll stick to sweet cream and salt, thanks, which is all that is in real butter. I will never touch margarine again, and living in the Midwest, that's not an easy thing to do if one dines out ... ever.

So, I am going to prepare some good old-fashioned country-style roast potatoes in lard, with their crispy, cracklin coat. Yum! Then some pastry shells for quiche ... then frying some eggplant ...

To render lard, all you do is chop up the fat (or run it through a food processor)--we got our local processor to do this at slaughter--and put it in a roasting pan. Roast in a preheated 225-degree oven for 30 minutes to an hour, until only liquid fat remains and a few bits of protein. Run through a piece of cheesecloth and store in a glass or stainless steel jar in the refrigerator or in the pantry. It will keep for 3-4 months this way.