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Bakers? Lard for meat pie crust, Cornish Pasty

zackly Jan 7, 2014 06:26 AM

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. m
    magiesmom RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 06:34 AM

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

    1. r
      Raffles RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 07:19 AM

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

      19 Replies
      1. re: Raffles
        zackly RE: Raffles Jan 7, 2014 07:29 AM

        Is it solid @ room temperature?

        1. re: zackly
          Raffles RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 07:34 AM

          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
            caganer RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 08:05 AM

            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
              porker RE: caganer Jan 7, 2014 08:50 AM

              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
                zackly RE: porker Jan 7, 2014 09:38 AM

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

                1. re: zackly
                  sandylc RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 10:00 AM

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

                  1. re: sandylc
                    zackly RE: sandylc Jan 7, 2014 10:46 AM

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

                  2. re: zackly
                    porker RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 11:48 AM

                    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
                      zackly RE: porker Jan 7, 2014 12:08 PM

                      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: zackly
                        Raffles RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 01:49 PM

                        Leaf lard rules!

                        1. re: Raffles
                          Becca Porter RE: Raffles Jan 7, 2014 04:14 PM


                      2. re: porker
                        sandylc RE: porker Jan 7, 2014 12:08 PM

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

                        1. re: sandylc
                          porker RE: sandylc Jan 7, 2014 01:24 PM

                          See my post about 7 up ^.

                          Or click here


                          1. re: porker
                            sandylc RE: porker Jan 7, 2014 01:43 PM

                            Oops thanks

                  3. re: caganer
                    AlexRast RE: caganer Jan 7, 2014 08:58 PM

                    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
                      caganer RE: AlexRast Jan 8, 2014 06:21 AM

                      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
                        AlexRast RE: caganer Jan 9, 2014 06:04 PM

                        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
                          Becca Porter RE: AlexRast Jan 10, 2014 08:47 AM

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

                      2. re: AlexRast
                        sandylc RE: AlexRast Jan 8, 2014 09:32 AM

                        Since when is butter not animal fat?

                2. biondanonima RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 08:27 AM

                  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. a
                    AngelaID RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 08:30 AM

                    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 onion....no 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. r
                      Raffles RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 09:24 AM

                      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!!!

                      1. z
                        zackly RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 09:27 AM

                        Thanks all for this great information!

                        1. h
                          Harters RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 10:05 AM

                          I make pasties with a butter/lard mix. The lard is readily available in the supermarket and is simply labelled "lard" - it's a solid block. I've never come across runny lard.

                          I've no idea what Crisco may be or how good a substitute it would be.

                          1. JungMann RE: zackly Jan 7, 2014 10:45 AM

                            You can use a combination of cold block lard (like Armour) and butter for your pasty crust. Some cooks prefer Crisco/shortening over lard but you will lose the flavor and flakiness lard imparts to pastry.

                            While grated suet would not be traditional in Cornwall, I substitute it for a portion of the lard because it makes for a crispier crust that stands up better to wet fillings.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JungMann
                              zackly RE: JungMann Jan 8, 2014 08:02 AM

                              Sine butter in the US is only about 80% fat as opposed to lard or shortening that is 100% fat do I need to compensate for the 20% or so water in butter when converting recipes calling for 100% fat products (suet,lard or shortening)?

                              1. re: zackly
                                JungMann RE: zackly Jan 8, 2014 08:26 AM

                                Pasties are a more forgiving dough than pie crust. You can certainly convert lard/shortening to butter in a 1:1 ratio for pasties. In the end, you may end up needing a little less water to get the dough to come together.

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