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Thursday, November 22, 2007


Well, I wanted to use some of the leaf lard in my Thanksgiving pie crust, which meant I had to render some. Thanks to the wonders of Google, I got a general idea of how I should go about it, and set to it.

Here is the big box of fat:

I pulled out a few of the pieces (the fat from each pig was cohesive and they were pretty easy to separate from each other), chopped them into one-inch chunks, and popped them into the Cuisinart:

After processing:

Then I put the end result (3-4 Cuisinart-loads) into my 6-quart dutch oven and into a 220-degree oven for about a million years (more like 8-9 hours). This is what it looked like when I pulled it out. I'm fairly certain that not all the fat was rendered, but I'm not sure how much longer it would have taken to get it out at that temperature. I think next time (oh yes, there will be a next time--I barely made a dent into that giant box, but I got more than enough lard to last me for this winter's pastry-making) I'll try it at 250. And I might use the meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid instead of the Cuisinart.

After pulling it out of the oven, I let it cool for a while, then strained through coffee filters and portioned out into small plastic containers to freeze. Another thing I learned for next time: don't let it cool for more than an hour before starting to strain; it needs to be quite hot to make it through the filter.

Another thing my Googling told me was that the fat I got might not technically have been leaf fat (which is strictly the fat around the adrenal glands), but might have been caul fat (which is located around the intestines and other organs). Either way, it was dead cheap, and when I was using it to make my pie crust tonight, it smelled just like the pie crusts my mom made when I was a kid.

A final note: the fat is easiest to handle when it's colder than fridge temperature. Next time I'll start chopping it fresh from the freezer and see if that works. Colder fat leaves much less pasty residue on everything you're using to break it down into smaller pieces, making for easier cleanup. I could definitely tell a difference between the first batch of fat I processed and the last.

Anyone wanna come help me render the rest, say, in January, when the holidays are over and I'm done with my stupid CLE reporting?

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Blogger Swizzies said...

Um, how does the pastry from all that taste? I can't say I've ever tried it...but if I had to go through that process to get it, I would probably be too ill to eat anything made from it.

No, I don't cook, especially meat. I'm some kind of reality-phobe when it comes to Where Things Really Come From.

You are a dedicated foodie, JA!!

November 22, 2007 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger ME said...

I have a couple of good crust recipes from friends, but I'm far too lazy to ever attempt crust from scratch.

Appreciate your dedication to the craft of crustery, though.

November 23, 2007 at 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ate the pie yesterday, and the crust turned out pretty dang good. I'm looking forward to trying it with a pie served right after making (and not the day before).

ME, you really should make your own crusts--it's not hard (assuming a Cuisinart) and is SO worth it (who knows what kind of fat goes into store-bought crusts?!?!).

November 23, 2007 at 3:49 PM  

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