Lard… a favourite here on the ranch for everything from frying to baking. What is lard and why do we love it so? Read on!
- Functionality: Lard has a high smoke point which makes it optimal for high heat cooking. It also has a high melt point, which is why it’s prized for making flakey pie crusts.
- Nutrition: Pastured pork lard is a natural, whole food that is packed with vitamin D. The pigs synthesize vitamin D from the sunlight, store it in their fatty tissues and then deliver that vitamin D to us by way of their delicious lard… and we could all use some of the sunshine vitamin this time of year!
- Flavour: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve roasted broccoli, potatoes, squash – you name it – in lard, and had someone ask me for the recipe because it’s the best _________ they’ve ever had. The answer is usually just that I’ve put salt, pepper and lard. Lard does have a very neutral flavour, but still lends that special je ne sais quoi that makes any other food the best that it can be.
- Ethics: Our lard is one of the only organic, local, pasture-based cooking fats that I know of!
What is Lard?
We make our lard right here on the farm. We use the extra fat from the animal, grind it, and then gently heat it, rendering down the fat and simmering out any water. We then strain it through very fine filters and pour it into jars to cool.
Leaf Lard & Homestead Lard – What’s the Difference?
- Our homestead lard is made from the fat on the back of the hog. It has a slight delicious pork flavour that makes it perfect for cooking any savoury dish.
- Our leaf lard is made from the ‘leaf fat’ surrounding the kidneys. This fat is slightly harder in texture, and has a neutral flavour. These two qualities make it ideal for pastries or sweet baking.
How Can I Use Lard In My Kitchen?
I use lard in almost every meal, so I keep a jar on my counter with a butter knife beside it for scooping and plopping in the frying pan. If you use it less frequently, keep the lard in the refrigerator and it will last many months. As for what to cook with it? The possibilities are endless, but here are 10 ideas to get you started!
- Fry eggs in homestead lard for breakfast.
- Bake cookies with leaf lard. I often substitute 50% butter and 50% lard for the butter called for in any cookie recipe.
- Roast potatoes in homestead lard – Preheat the oven to 475℉ and put potato slices and a generous scoop of lard in a pan. Season with salt & pepper. Once the oven is heated, put the pan in the oven and wait a few minutes for the lard to melt. Once melted, stir with a spatula to coat all the potatoes in the lard and return to the oven. Continue to bake for about 45 minutes or until crispy, stirring several times.
- Deep-fry in homestead lard! Ditch the canola oil and use homestead lard to fry chicken, french fries, or even homemade donuts. If you have a lot of lard left in the pan when you’re finished, you can strain the lard and store in the refrigerator for next time.
- Make the dreamiest pie crust with leaf lard. Some like to use 50% butter and 50% lard, but I often use 100% leaf lard.
- Sear steaks in homestead lard. If I’m not barbequing, I always reverse sear my steaks in the oven or toaster oven, and then quickly sear them in a cast-iron pan well-oiled with lard
- Stir-fry vegetables in homestead lard. What’s better than eating seasonal farm-fresh vegetables? Eating seasonal, farm-fresh vegetables perfectly sauteed in lard! First melt the lard in a hot pan, then add the veg.
- Add homestead lard to leaner meats to prevent sticking. I always oil my pan well with homestead lard before cooking ground turkey.
- Roast any vegetable in homestead lard. Delicata squash, broccoli, and any root vegetable are all delicious when roasted using the same method as potatoes (timing will vary).
- Fry pancakes in homestead or leaf lard. I always cook my sourdough pancakes in plenty of lard — resulting flavour and texture is divine.