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Fun with Lard

Sooo on a whim this weekend I bought a nice big hunk of leaf lard from the Wooly Pig stand in the farmers market, and thought it would be a fun experiment to render down some lard for use in...well, there lies the problem.

I now have a freezer full of neat little sticks of lard, and a fridge full of cracklins. Unfortunately, I really didn't think too far past that. Anyone have good ideas for a bunch of lard? Other than making pie crust (although im sure I will make a few, I don't really need that much pie in my life)

I know its often used in mexican food, but it looks like most recipes on the internet ive come across have been gringo-ized and don't call for it.

bad comes to worse, I can save it for thanksgiving..

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  1. Homemade refried beans. You can soak and cook pinto beans or use canned. Take some lard, saute some onion and garlic. Add the beans, cook until soft, then puree. add s & p to taste.
    Can also make fried pork chunks. Marinate cut up pork(boneless ribs work well). Put lard in a pan and cook the pork chunks slowly until the meat is tender, then turn up the heat to get the outside crispy.

    1. I made an English muffin recipe last night that used lard- that would take care of a 1/4 cup for you...

      1. From my experience, lard and a cast iron pan are essential for heating tortillas. Oil just isn't the same. Also, I second the refried beans. I use the same recipe, but I simmer dried beans with epazote. I add dried chiles of some sort as well. Lately its been arbol.

        To get my lard, I add an inch or so of water to a deep braising pan, and put another braising pan in that, and then roast a pork shoulder on an inverted muffin tin that I used as a rack at 325 for several hours. Then, I shred the pork and reserve the fat that wasn't rendered. All of the fat goes into my cast iron pan and back into the oven for a while. Then I let it cool a little and strain it. I get lard, pork to use on a whim, a soup bone, and I maintain my iron cookware.

        1. See cookbooks by Diana Kennedy and Rick Bayless for great Mexican recipes that use lard.

          You can also use lard, either alone or in combination with duck fat, to make confit pork (butt, shoulder, blade end), pork sausagues or duck. See Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France for recipes and procedures.

          Lard is an excellent frying medium. Use it instead of butter or oil for browning pork, poultry or even lamb and shellfish. Great for deep-frying too.

          You can substitute lard for up to half the butter in cakes and many other baked goods, usually with an improvement in texture.

          1. Have you made a pie crust yet from your leaf lard? It's like a magic elixir, the crust is so light and flaky. With summer fruit coming in, your stash may disappear faster than you realize!

            1. Lets see, make some tamales, carnitas, grilled pork confit (Suzanne Goin's recipe is available on Howtocookeverything.tv - I've always wanted to make this but haven't had the cojones to try it yet).

              3 Replies
              1. re: ESNY

                TAMALES, TAMALES, TAMALES!
                I'll 2nd the tamale rec. Looks like you're fairly adventurous. Rendered your own lard?

                Make tamales, you won't regret it! Make some extra masa, and freeze it.
                Web up a recipe. You'll find PLENTY w/ lard.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  its really not as daunting as it seems actually =p

                  I'm lucky to have one of the finest small-scale pork producers around as a regular at the saturday farmers market. Growing up we always used Crisco, but it never sat right with me and after reading Real Food by Nina Planck I never will again =p
                  Sadly, lard from the supermarket is partially hydrogenated as well and so unless you're really lucky to have a mexican market near you (I don't), rendering your own from a producer you know really the only option. Plus I believe manteca has a different flavor than the leaf lard, and I was thinking primarily of pie crust when I got all obsessed with the idea.

                  Then my fiancee informed me that making a bunch of pie would probably be unhelpful to fitting in to a wedding dress next month =/

                  as is, I will probably perfect my pie crust and freeze them, but making tamales sounds like fun =)

                  1. re: Jeters

                    The leaf lard you have is much more refined in flavor than, say, the lard you might render from a pork shoulder. So it's ideal for using in pie crust, biscuits, and flour tortillas, where you're looking for the nonpareil texture lard gives, but not a deeply porky flavor. I wouldn't waste it on refried beans or a bunch of other great Mexican food, though - for that, you don't want your precious leaf lard, you want the lard you render from a nice fatty hunk of pork you cook.

                    You've got your store of great baking lard in the freezer, so I say cool your heels and keep most of it there and look forward to a nice pile of light, flaky biscuits and late-summer fruit pies...after your wedding [bg].

              2. Terrific fried chicken and/or chicken fried steak. Don't forget to use a bit of lard to make the gravy.

                1. a dab will stop the door from squeaking!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: porker

                    Yeah but it wont make the door taste any better!

                    1. Maybe Google will turn up some authentic Mexican cookie recipes using lard. They are delicious!

                        1. Lard is the ultimate oil. If you wet-rendered it you can use it in place of nearly any other oil in nearly any recipe, either as an ingredient or as a cooking medium. (Okay, maybe it won't work so well in salad dressings, but that's a rare exception.) But IMO high-quality lard will take tamales, flour tortillas, and pie crust to a whole 'nother level. They're just a lot better with lard than with any other oil.