Lard has gained quite a bad reputation in recent decades. Whenever the world “lard” is mentioned, the words “arteries” and “heart attack” are likely to follow. The constant repetition of the “fact” that unsaturated fatty acids are superior has rendered this rendered animal fat almost obsolete after being an indispensible houshold staple in the past.
I have never made it a secret that I don’t give a damn about such health claims. But meanwhile the tide has been turning also from the science side of the matter and apparently saturated fats like lard and butter may actually not be unhealthier than unsaturated vegetable fats.
But not only as a fat for frying lard is a good thing. In many parts of Europe lard with scrathings has traditionally been eaten as a tasty spread on bread, and it is both inexpensive and easy to make.
Like for any traditional food there are numerous different recipes for lard. The addition of onions or apples is very popular, and it can be seasoned with different herbs. But my favourite is “pure lard”. This recipe is almost impossible to beat in terms of simplicity since it uses only pork fat and a bit of water. Nevertheless it is amazing what an intensive and complex taste it can have when it is prepared from high quality meat.
- 1 kg raw pork fatback
- 100 ml water
- Preparation: 20 minutes
- Cooking time: 90 minutes
Dice the fat into cubes of about 5 mm size. Fill into a pot, add the water and let render slowly on low heat. Stir often so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
The process of making lard has three stages. First the water inside the fat cells is evaporating. Water is added so the fat cubes won’t burn at this stage. After about 15 minutes the fat cells begin to burst and the fat is rendered. This stage took roughly 45 minutes in my case. Now the scratchings consist mainly of cellular proteins. They will now be fried slowly in their own fat. During this frying stage roasting flavours are created in the scratchings that are in turn taken on by the fat. At low heat this may take 30 minutes or even more.
Once the scratchings have taken on a nice brown colour the lard can be filled into jars or other suitable containers. It keeps for several months in the refrigerator. It tastes best on fresh rye bread or pretzel pastries.