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We just made a batch of lard - the worlds most delicious and nutritious fat!  For anyone still in doubt about the fat / cholesterol scam - some recommended reading:
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
Eat Your Cholesterol: How to Live Off the Fat of the Land & Feel Great
by William Campbell Douglass II
Folks back in the day - ate lard every day - lived longer, healthier lives, worked harder and lived better.  But enough about that - on with the fun!


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You will want to get your hands on some pasture raised / naturally raised pork fat.  Find a local farmer - make sure they are not using antibiotics, medications or the like.  Take about 10 lbs. of pork fat (preferably leaf lard).  I haven't had luck doing bigger quantities than that because it seems like it can't render as well with too much mass, and the cracklin's won't crisp up.  See below - if you miss the last stage you are missing the best part - cracklin's!!

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Chop the fat into small squares, the smaller the better.  The more surface area you have the quicker the rendering is and the higher the yield.  Even if you have a big pot.  If you feel so inclined you can even grind the fat.  But you want no bigger than 1"x1" chunks.  This particular batch I cut to about 1/2" to 1/4" thick.

Add a little water - about half the volume of the fat - and bring to an uncovered slow boil over low heat, stirring frequently. The water helps the fat not burn or stick to the bottom.  Eventually, the water will evaporate, and the golden liquid left is the melted fat.  You will know when this happen because the bubbles will look different. 

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Keep cooking until solid fat has melted.  Your house will have a wonderful warm meaty aroma.  Stir frequently to mash up the fat bits, and prevent burning. 

The solid fat will get crispier and crispier as you can see below.  Start ladling the liquid fat out and pour through a cheesecloth lined container.  The key is to take out the lard in batches, the first batches being the lightest and best lard.
PictureSee the difference in the color of the liquid?
Make sure you leave liquid in the bottom with the solid fat in the pot.  When you can't ladle any more because the the liquid fat is too low then you want to stop and let the solid fat crisp up (make sure you don't tip the pot to get more, the solid fat needs a certain amount of liquid fat to crisp properly).  Once most of the solid fat is crisp you want to dump the whole thing (Solid and liquid fat) through the cheesecloth then once the liquid has drained through, dump the crispy solid fat that is in your cheesecloth, back into the pot.  You will want to have dumped the first liquid that you drained off into jars, you don't want to mix them, because the first jars will be pure white and the later ones will be darker.  You'll want to use the lighter for pie crust or bakery items but the darker lard you will want to use for fried chicken, pork steak, etc.  If you did have some meat bits in there, don't throw it out.  It's been cooked in this delicious fat for hours.  Eat it!

PictureThe cracklins!
And now for the best part.....the cracklins.  Fry the remaining solid fat like you would bacon, until its all crispy.  But you have to watch it close because it could burn easily. When they are nice and crispy dump them out on a plate and salt them.  And there, you have your cracklins!  Try not to eat them all now, save some to add to scrambled eggs or bake them in biscuits.  My absolute favorite way of eating them is in cracklin' biscuits and homemade sausage gravy!

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You'll want to let the jars sit out and cool to room temperature, then you can put them in the freezer.  They will keep for a long time in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer.  Notice the first photo above - the jar at the far left (front) is slightly darker than the rest - this is the lard rendered while the cracklin's were crisping up.

You can make the flakiest, yummiest pie crust in the world with lard!

Enjoy!

 


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