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what do i do with all this fatback / pork fat!?!

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i'm a recovering vegetarian, as my SO's mum raises organic heritage pigs who refuse to drink water (only hops and whey for them!).

how could i refuse?

so i have a lot of access to fatback, with no ideas what to do with them. it is all white with skin, and there doesn't appear to have any meat at all on them. i also have a piece with a tail attached.

i found a recipe for lardo ( http://eatlocal.wordpress.com/2008/08... ), but is there anything more immediate that i could enjoy it with? say for example... some bean dish? rice? anything!

i don't have access to salt pork, nor do i know how to use either of them. i would prefer not to use any bacon in large quantities, because it's just so expensive (her bacon, at least. i can't justify bringing supermarket bacon into my life). i don't know if i should chop this up, melt it, throw away the skin, or whatever! i just don't know what to do with raw animal parts.

also, she won't let me have any leaf lard, so i don't know how this translates to pie-making for me.

thanks in advance!

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  1. People are going to come at you with 1001 ideas on what to do with it (lardo, cracklins, sausage, cassoulet) but the easiest way to transform it into an easy to use and easy to store ingredient is to render it into lard, despite the advice of baking snobs who think that leaf lard is the only useable fat that comes from a pig.

    Grind it and chop it fine. Either cook it in the oven/stovetop over low heat with some water before straining out the browned bits or boil it and skim the released fat. Both methods take time, both are somewhat messy. The easiest way I found is to put a covered pot with the pieces into a low oven (225?) and leave it overnight. It will fill the house my morning with a very very strong porky smell. Some folks like it, some find it a little heady.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ernie Diamond

      1001? bring it on!

      cassoulet sounds nice, would i just toss in a piece?
      and as a peasant dish, duck isn't the cheapest thing... or is it that particular cut?

      1. re: dumpycactus

        well since you asked;

        The rendered lard is a great medium for confit of all sorts. I have used it to confit duck, pork, gizzards, rabbit. Thomas Keller has a great method so start there.

        Pork skin adds a great gelatine to bean dishes. Fergus Henderson has an outstanding recipe for beans and bacon that calls for pork skin to be placed at the bottom of the cooking pot. Likewise for cassoulet, the skin is used to line the cassole, resulting in an especially porky-rich product.

        I use salted backfat in a fine dice in my boudin noir (the recipe for which appears on the recipe page). I have also used sliced backfat, fresh and salted to line terrines and cured it for lardo. Incidentally, curing backfat is actually quite easy. A little goes a long way, however and I don't think that it can be accused of special versatility.

        If you have a particularly thick piece of backfat, I would certainly suggest that you try your hand at salting or curing but no more than two pounds. The rest I would render for lard as that truely is one of the most versatile items a person can have in the kitchen.

    2. Why dont you sell it to a local food supply co., market or restaurant? I would think a restaurant would be all over local organic fatback.

      2 Replies
      1. re: AdamD

        it's not my place to sell it, as it's her business and not mine.
        i'm free to play with the ingredients as i like, because the results are for our personal pleasure and not for profit.

        so by access i mean a freezer-full, not a truck-full!

        1. re: dumpycactus

          Cool. Just a suggestion if it is going to waste.

      2. You can render lard from the fat back. You can fry or boil.
        I like the boiling method since the lard will be almost pure white with no brown floaty stuff. I would chop up some fat back (1/2 inch cubes) and cook in a slow cooker with a cup of water for 8 hours. Strain (if desired) and refrigerate so the fat separates from the water.

        Also, fat back is a nice addition to making your own sausages.

        Leave the skin on and make salt pork.

        The lardo recipe sounds good too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dave_c

          The other advantage of boiling, as I understand it is that the lard is less volitile from the low temperature (as compared to direct heat) and is less likely to go rancid or burn. What I left unsaid above is that the oven method does give a distinct "toasted" quality to the finished lard.

        2. Render into lard as described above, then use it to braise other cuts of pork.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Brock Lee Robb

            this might be a stupid question:
            does it taste like pork? so if i use it to braise other things as well (vegetables?), it will be pig-licious?

            1. re: dumpycactus

              Yes, tastes piggy. Neglected to say, this technique is properly called "confit." I've never tried to re-use the fat with anything else except more pig, so I don't know, but I imagine it would add its flavor to whatever you're cooking. That might or might not be a good thing!

          2. Do you have access to a smoker?? If so, take some and smoke it making sure sure you save the drippings. I always save some of the smoked, rendered pig goodness when I do BBQ. It's fantastic as a cooking oil.

            Make salt pork as has been said. My family uses them in perogies as well as renders to fry said perogies in a pan. It also goes in holubtsi (cabbage rolls) instead of beef and in borscht as well.

            DT