Lard – a photo essay


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.

10 Responses

  1. Carissa says:

    My breath actually caught in my throat looking through these photos. Is it all leaf lard?

  2. Kevin says:

    Good morning Carissa. About 85-90% leaf lard, with a few chunks of glorious back fat [photo top left] making up the difference.

  3. 11. great photos.
    2. why is it called leaf lard?
    3. what did you use in the pan to unmold it? I used non-stick pans (h-aha) and there was NO WAY it would come out
    4. How many pounds of fat did you start with?
    5. Why 5 hours?,,, I still got very white and clean fat with medium heat – it wasn’t simmering, but it was boiling. I used my Balkan expert. What did you find that influenced your decision to go low and slow.
    6, was this the amount from one pig, or a half a pig?
    Love the ties.
    Can’t wait to use it! I haven’t got a response from Christen yet, but will be doing it Monday if we can connect for me to get some lard to make the pastry with.. One pound usually gives enough for 4 single pie crusts with a bit left over. Is that what you want to do with this pastry: pie pastry? If so, I could make it for you and then return it in packaged single discs for pie plates (or tarts or whatever).
    If not, I could just take a pound and make the pastry with that, use two of them for a double crusted pie for the tasting and return the other two for you to use at your leisure.
    I was thinking Granny Smith apple pies – three of them, for the standard tasting. But, I could make any kind. Do you have a preference?
    Also, the pies do freeze beautifully, before baking, and after making… so the tasting can actually be anytime.

  4. Eliza Cross says:

    Your photos are amazing! Count me a huge fan of your Lard Art.

  5. OMG, this may just be my favorite post ever — you have rendered lard into something stunning. I am in awe.

  6. Kevin says:

    Valerie: 1) thanks 2) apparently because of the way it forms/is shaped 3) nothing, believe it or not. I ran a knife around the edge, and the bottom popped clean. Maybe because of how frozen it was? 4) dunno, but I’m going to guess 2kg or so [moisture loss and chitlins making up the balance] 5) I could be wrong here, but my understanding would be that higher temps would impart more roasty-meat-type flavors 6) a whole pig – leaf lard plus a few pieces of back fat [but not much back fat]
    Eliza – thanks. :)
    Mme F – cool to hear from you! Glad you liked it.

  7. [...] you recognize these packages? You would only if you read Kevin’s blog. If you don’t you should. He is a hard core lover of good food. He walks his talk and has [...]

  8. CourtJ says:

    So impressed with the stuff you do all from scratch! I thought sausage, wine and cheese were somrthing, but this is something else. You’ve got some mad food creating skills.

  9. Deb Krause says:

    We got our pig from Country Quality Meats today (they get their hogs from a farm near Newbrook, close to were I grew up) and asked that they save the fat for me so I could try my hand at making lard.
    they ground it all up and put it in bags, so i have no idea where on the pig the majority of the fat came from (where on the pig that is), but i’m trying the first bag of it tonight… stove top method.
    *fingers crossed* i hope it works!
    thanks for all the inspiration!

  10. [...] 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. [...]

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