Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lardy dardy - making leaf lard from flare fat

It's a bit of a cliché, but they do say that the only part of a pig you can't eat is the oink.

Working with the butcher when Daisy was being turned into sausages gave me the chance to try a new product, for he presented me with what is known as the flare fat. This is the fat from inside the pig, around the kidneys and inside the loin.

The flare fat can be rendered down into leaf lard, the highest grade of lard. I never before realised that there were grades of lard, but then why should I? I'd only ever seen the one grade of supermarket lard.

So I decided to have a go at making my own lard. It's a bit out of fashion these days, but it is still the product to use for classic short crust pastry and flaky pie tops. It will certainly come in useful at the Blokes Baking Group.

Making lard from flare fat really couldn't be more simple. All you need do is cut the fat into cubes and heat. As it cooks down, pour off the fat into containers and then just wait for it to set solid. It does need to be kept in the fridge or frozen if you want to store it for long.
I decided to use the microwave method. I filled a plastic bowl with chunks of flare fat and set the mike for 4 minutes, at the end of which the chunks of fat had softened and reduced considerably. I poured off the liquid lard and then returned the bowl to the microwave for a further 4 minutes, repeated the same procedure and then went for a third go in the microwave. Here's what happened!

One very hot plastic bowl!
So my advice would be to always use a Pyrex dish, or switch to the stove top method in a saucepan, which is the option I took.

While I did this, I had all Daisy's bones roasting off in the oven. These went into a giant pot along with a few old vegetables, a couple of handfuls of herbs and a couple of pieces of skin to help jellify the stock.

Several hours later the whole lot had reduced down nicely. We (Sue) separated out the stock juice then boiled it down further. The end result was a rich, concentrated stock which turned nicely to a jelly and is now sliced up and stored in the freezer. There's plenty of it too.
Those winter casseroles will be even more tasty now!


Back to that leaf lard. The saucepan method worked well. I gradually poured off the rendered fat until all I was left with was a small pile of crispy fat pieces - tasty but very unhealthy!

I left the lard to cool and it gradually set to a pure, white colour, then into the freezer. I can't wait for an excuse to make some short crust pastry. I sense a steak and kidney pie coming along.

The end product
Premium grade leaf lard, plus a few unhealthy nibbles.

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