Really this should have been part of all my nosetotailings, but for reasons of space and time, I didn’t manage to use the lard until it was over. Yes, the suspense is lifted, I did manage to render some of my own lard. Nigella, eat your pancreas out!
The principle behind rendering your own animal fat into usuable storable fat is quite simply. The thing that makes natural fat go off is the cell tissue and membranes, if you melt it enough the fat will spearate from them and you can size them away. However it is a slow process, and I would do a couple of things differently. Also I’m not sure I’d have done it if I hadn’t had a slow cooker. (You must be converted to my slow cooker by now.)
There are two types of rendering of lard: wet and dry. Dry rendering you very gently over a long time heat the fat on its own until the cells and tissue break down which then forms a crusty surface. Wet rendering you again heat it long and slow, but with the addition of water, which stops the fat from burning. As we all know, fat and water don’t mix so well, so you can just pour the water off.
WARNING. I have no idea about weights and measurements as I used the fat I got off the head of Arthur after we’d feasted on him. There will be a lot of ‘some’s. If you google ‘Rendering your own lard’ there are a lot more precise recipes than mine (for example here and here).
- Chop you fat very small.
- Add it to a slow cooker.
- Cover this with water (fat floats, make sure it’s all floating).
- Put the lid on.
- Switch the low and cook for 4 days. (I forgot to tell my boyfriend to turn it off whilst I was away for a night.) Keep it topped up with water.
When you top it up with water, it will bubble in an alarming fashion. Watch this if you don’t believe me:
When you think it’s melted enough, strain it all through a tea towel (or muslin) into a bowl. Let it cool, then tip the water that will have gathered underneath away. You will now have some lard in a bowl. It’s that simple.
What would I do differently next time? Two things. First I would freeze the fat and then use a grater to make the pieces really small, thus cutting the rendering time. Second, I’m not sure I needed to heat it for 4 days. I think that was excessive, so I would monitor that more carefully next time.
So what do you do with the lard that you have rendered? Well, there’s lots of things – you can use instead of butter or oil in anything. It’s meant to make amazing pastry. It’s a mono-saturated fat, apparently, which is the same as avocado oil, so it’s healthier than the term LARD now suggests. As you may have guessed, what I did do was make my own oatcakes with it. One, I bloody love oatcakes. Two, I thought they’d be a good vehicle for ‘tasting the lard’. (I was also quite proud and wanted the send my foodie penpal something lardy, but wasn’t sure if a jar of lard would be a welcome gift in the post.)
So. Lucy’s Oatcakes. Oatcakes a la Lucy. Das Lutzykuchen!
150ml water, 8oz medium oatmeal, quarter tsp baking powder, quarter tsp salt, 1 generous tbsp of lard (or butter, or oil), 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp black mustard seeds.
What you do:
Put the water in a small pan and add the lard to it, heat until lard is melted.
Put the oatmeal and seasonings in a bowl, mix them together.
Add the water/lard mixture and mix it all up til you have a firm ball.
Roll this out with a rolling pin on a floured surface, then cut it into bits, or for little mouth-sized morsels, use a cookie cutter.
Put on a greased baking sheet and bake at Gas Mark 4 for twenty minutes, turning them over half way through.
Cool and feast yourself on the Lutzykuchen!
Magen Sie Lutzykuchen? Moechten Sie Lutzykuchen essen? Lutzykuchen schmecht mir gut!*
This introduces something *almost* not offal to the blog – is that a good idea?
(I lost the photos I took, so stole this one off my lovely foodie penpal. It is much better than any I could have taken.)
*I apologise to anyone German, sincerely. Mein Deutsch ist gefahrlich!