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Archive for the ‘Lard’ Category

Abstinence & Seasonal Eating

11.02.11

Abstinence. As I get older I find the concept more and more intriguing.

I went through a stage of enjoying posh wines quite frequently. After some time, it took more and more to impress as posh wines became the norm. I found my enjoyment of them decreased, and it took more and more awesomeness to impress. Having noticed this taking place, I majorly backed away from posh wines, and now I find I enjoy them more when they do make an appearance. They’re special again. They’re not the norm. They make a moment special as a nice wine should.

Eating seasonally is forced abstinence, and I’m increasing grateful for it. Today’s example is lard. I haven’t had lard in the house since last year’s was all used up. That means that I haven’t had a tart, fruit pie, meat pie, in some time. Which makes having one again far more enjoyable than were I to always have it available. It’s a treat, rather than the norm.

The garden provides far better examples – we eat asparagus in May/June, and that’s it. Some people think that’s hardcore. I see it as sensible – eating the item when it’s fresh and local, then abstaining until it’s in season again. It’s an awfully good thing there are other lovely things to eat than just asparagus, and I’ve found that the year is a slow evolution of palette of foods coming into their own. When asparagus season returns, we’re eating it at its best which makes it tasty, but we’ve also not had it in ages which makes it that much more of an event. It’s not ‘everyday’. This forced abstinence seems to inject my life with loads more ‘special moments’ with food than before, that end up tied to time and place. In a sense, it’s largely what I set out to achieve in changing our family’s food culture.

Absence [and abstinence] does make the heart grow fonder. I’m convinced.

Lard – a photo essay

10.16.10

This was easily some of the most beautiful pork fat I have worked with – if not the best. The day we cut this pig, I marveled at it repeatedly. With more pig butchering dates on the horizon, a moose hunt coming up, and a front quarter of beef coming in November, I’ve been mindful of freezer space efficiency. Fat need not be frozen, so it was time to render lard.

I didn’t do it in the oven this time, to see how stove-top would work out. Opting for low heat to keep the flavors as clean as possible, it took 5 hours + to get the job done. Worked great. Other than cubing it up to small dice [which helps the tissues release fat, presumably], and cooking it slowly, there’s not much else to know. One thing I learned: don’t put parchment in the tray you intend to cool it in – it just floats. I removed it while the fat was liquid as it was suspended in it – what a mess that would have been once hardened.

The remainder will be photo essay with a few notes: the unplanned reflection of the tree in the liquid lard [it sat on my patio table], the gelled version happened by the time I got in the house from the liquid shot, the heavy-relief one shortly thereafter – all the same stuff, just a few minutes apart. The baking dish left a lovely subtle pattern in the fat when it was unmoulded. Fat art. Yield 1.63kg.