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Jan 7, 2014 06:26 AM

Bakers? Lard for meat pie crust, Cornish Pasty

I want to make for a British friend a "proper Cornish Pasty". The recipes online are pretty straightforward and rigid but I'm wondering about the fat for the dough. Lard, Crisco, butter, beef fat are all used in different recipes. I like the idea of lard & butter but I have a question about lard. Should I use the 1# blocks that I see in supermarkets (Armour is one brand I see)? I also buy from a Hispanic market rendered lard that is runny @ room temperature and has a (good) flavor like is was used to cook something else, maybe carnitas. Which lard should I use?

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  1. For pie crust I use blocks as I want it solid.

    1. We use cold rendered lard from a local meat store. It should be cold anyway when making pastry...

      19 Replies
      1. re: Raffles

        Is it solid @ room temperature?

        1. re: zackly

          My guess would be yes, but we never let it get warm. It lives in the reefer and goes right into the flour with ice water, all done quickly. We don't like Armour, but we do like the one in the blue box, Morrell Snowcap.

          We used Snowcap for years til we found the local meat market lard, Shirks Meats,Dundee,NY.

          1. re: zackly

            The industrially produced stuff is only solid at room temp because it's been hydrogenated (just like the fats in crisco)
            Before hydrogenation all lard was like the lard from your Hispanic market - and was used to bake all sorts of flaky crusts.

            1. re: caganer

              Tenderflake lard is solid at room temp (and sold at room temp) and is non-hydrogenated.
              I would suggest this to the OP as it makes a very good crust, and is better than Crisco.
              Alas it is a Canadian product...

              1. re: porker

                Does anyone know if there is a lard comparable to Snowflake available in the U.S?

                1. re: zackly

                  I have not found one. Please avoid the hydrogenated ones. Have you tried refrigerating the Mexican lard?

                  1. re: sandylc

                    Yes, I store mine in the refrigerator but it's sold unrefrigerated.

                  2. re: zackly

                    I was browsing the web to see if you can get Tenderflake in the states, but didn't come across much....
                    I did stumble across this site
                    which is pretty much how mrs. porker makes crusts for meat pie (aka tourtiere).
                    The website shows how to make a pie shell, but the wife uses the fresh dough (it HAS to be refrigerated first) at the bottom of a pie plate, adds filling, then tops with more rolled dough, then bakes the whole shebang (not pre-made crust as the site shows).
                    She uses this crust method and recipe for meat pies, apple pies, and chicken pot pie. It would work well with your pasty, I'd think.

                    I know plenty of people use Crisco (a vegetable-based shortening), some use butter and all are happy enough.
                    Others (the wife included) swear by lard (an animal (pork) product) in general and Tenderflake in particular.

                    I'd suggest using the solid-at-room-temp lard. I know plenty of people have concerns about hydrogenated products. To my understanding, Armour lard is made up of 0.02% hydrgenated lard (added for shelf life/stability). I have no clue on how bad or good this is on the EVIL scale...

                    A coupla places may have all-natural lard:


                    Just YOWSA: you gotta pay the premium, then shipping.
                    In the Montreal area, a pound of Tenderflake runs $2.79...

                    Maybe call your Canadian cousin to send you some Tenderflake.

                    1. re: porker

                      Thanks for your research efforts! I'm going to have a cigar now next door to a bakery owned by Martha Stewart's ex baker, the guy on her TV shows of yesteryear. I think his name might bee John. I'm going to see if he'll sell me some leaf lard.

                      1. re: porker

                        Is Tenderflake hydrogenated? The link on their website is broken...

                  3. re: caganer

                    It's definitely not the case that rendered lard need be hydrogenated to be solid at room temperature. I buy lard regularly from my favourite farm (Askerton Castle), render it myself, and the result is VERY solid at room temperature. You want "leaf lard" - the fat that surrounds the pig's kidneys. It has a distinctive appearance, lumpy and membranaceous rather than smooth and layered, like belly fat (which some people will give you as lard. Belly fat could be used, although its properties aren't as good.

                    It should be noted that a pasty is NOT flaky - if it were, it would fail in its primary purpose - a carrier for its contents that can survive rough treatment. You'll notice a difference in preparation method for the pastry.

                    But for ordinary piecrusts lard also works splendidly - or a combination of half butter, half lard. It should be noted that for pasties using butter would reduce the keeping time, so the more "traditional" recipes would call for an all-animal-fat pastry.

                    1. re: AlexRast

                      I only claimed the the industrially produced stuff is solid because it's been hydrogenated - and I'm right.
                      (also, you don't buy lard from a farm and then render it at home, you buy fat from a farm and turn it into lard by rendering)

                      1. re: caganer

                        Sorry if there was a misunderstanding. I was responding to your comment "Before hydrogenation all lard was like the lard from your Hispanic market" (if we are to infer from the OP thus not solid) - which made it sound as though RT solidity were an exclusive property of hydrogenation. Of course hydrogenation does make some fats not ordinary solid at RT solid (most of the vegetable oils) by synthetically "saturating" them but by and large fats with a high enough percentage of saturated fat will be solid at RT. There's plenty of lard which, after rendering from fresh, stays solid without any need for industrial processing.

                        Perhaps there's a difference in UK vs. US terminology with respect to "lard" vs. "fat". Here in the UK "lard" can be used to refer to specific parts of pig fat even if unrendered. You sometimes see old tins in fact saying "rendered lard". The fat around the kidneys is called lard here in its native state. But other parts of pig fat, e.g. belly fat, is just called "fat". It's very much like the distinction between "suet" - which comes from around beef kidneys, and "beef fat" - which could be from anywhere.

                        An enquiry here for "pork fat" would almost surely get you random trimmings rather than the leaf lard you'd want for best effect, so you always want to ask for "fresh lard" here. Again perhaps this is different in the USA. Can anyone advise what you'd get if you asked for "pork fat" in the USA from a farm, vs. what you'd get if you asked for "lard"? And what you would have to do to ensure that the fat you received were that surrounding the pig's kidneys?

                        1. re: AlexRast

                          Pig fat is called pig fat. Leaf lard is specifically the fat around the kidneys.

                      2. re: AlexRast

                        Since when is butter not animal fat?

                2. I made my best savory pie crust ever recently, using 1/3 bacon grease and 2/3 butter. I keep my bacon grease in the fridge, so I just scooped out the desired amount and put it in the freezer for a few minutes to get even firmer. I would give that lard from your Hispanic market the same treatment and use that rather than Armour.

                  1. I have been making pasties for years....I use an old Cornish recipe calling for a beef suet crust. (Not just pie crust.)
                    I use sirloin steak about 3/4 inch thick cut into cubes. I only add meat, potatoes and carrots or turnips or rutabegas.
                    If you want the authentic crust recipe here it is:
                    approx. four cups all purpose flour
                    approx 1 cup finely chopped kidney beef suet
                    1/4 cup real butter
                    salt - use your own judgement
                    I have used the food processor to mix the suet, flour, butter and salt until it holds together and the chunks of suet are about the size of small peas or large BB's. I add enough ice cold water to form the dough and then let it sit for a hour to absorb the water.
                    I roll out the dough a little thicker than pie crust, add diced potatoes, diced sirloin steak, diced onions, salt and pepper to taste and top it with a pat of butter. I fold the crust over and seal the edges well, then slash a small vent hole in the top. I bake in a 375 F oven for approx 50 minutes or until they look done.

                    1. The Hispanic market lard seems to be a dry rendered lard, think fried pork fat. (strong flavor)
                      For baking you want a wet rendered lard, think skimming fat off boiled pork.(mild flavor)

                      LOL< LARD RESEARCH TODAY!!!