So, what’s a gardener to do if it’s raining on her weekend? She cooks.
Spring means egg season, so I have been trying hard to find as many different ways of preparing them as I can. So quiche has been on the menu quite a bit lately, especially asparagus/leek quiche. And quiche means piecrust, and piecrust means…lard!
I read this book when it came out a few years ago. I also read this one somewhat recently. I was a vegetarian at the time that I read both of them. I am not fat-phobic; never have been, and wondered always why it got such a bad rap. But since we’re eating locally as a matter of principle, and going whole-hog as it were with the bits and bites of the side of the pig we got late last fall, I have been experimenting with different kinds of fat. And one of the best fats of all? Home-rendered leaf lard.
Before you go all Ewww on me, I will have you know that lard is one of the few monounsaturated fats out there. It is great in my savory pie crusts, though I have been known to add it (half with butter) to my sweet crusts, too. Rendering is a fairly simple process. Leaf lard comes from around the kidneys of a pig, and therefore has no muscle fibers in it (unlike, say, back fat) and tends to be very light in color. You chop up the white lard into small pieces, place a little bit of filtered water in the bottom of a heavy pan, and you let the stuff cook down, without stirring it, over very low heat. I swear if you cook it slowly/low enough, it won’t smell at all. Use a ladle and scoop it through cheesecloth into a canning jar. The first liquid will be the clearest/most white; the further down you go the more little bits you will get. (The bits, frankly, are great to use to cook up some spuds and onions!) I tend to do two jars: the pure stuff, the last stuff. You cap the jars and put them in the fridge to use as you need them.