I know. No one cooks with lard anymore. But that’s because y’all are crazy. Lard is amazing, awesome, lovely stuff. I use it all the time. I don’t buy into the “fat is bad” argument, at all, actually, but especially for lard, when it’s produced from heritage breed pigs out on pasture. If you’d like to get religion like I have, read Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes by Jennifer McLagan.
Just to be sure, by the way, I had my cholesterol, good fats and bad fats tested not that long ago. The results came out great. My good fats are great, my bad fats are great. I’m the thinnest, most fit I’ve been in my entire life. I drink full-fat raw milk, cook with butter and lard, eat a fair amount of meat, a lot of vegetables. I also farm full-time, so I know my exercise level is way above what most people do each day. Still, lard: good!
Here’s how I render it. I start with fat that still has the skin on, and remove the skin. (Save it for spiced cracklings! I have a batch almost ready to cook up now.) Then I cut it into chunks and put it into the food processor. I find that it renders up faster when it’s whirred to a mush.
At that point I have two options. I either put it in my largest roasting pan in the oven at 250°F, covered with water, or put it into my crockpot on low, also covered with water. Right now, I have both methods in full swing right now, because we just slaughtered three pigs, and Ginny was a fat, fat girl! (She was over 500 pounds! We have pork chops bigger than sirloin steaks, and tons of fat.) Either way, stir it every so often, and eventually, all of the water evaporates away and you are left with liquid fat. I can leave it overnight in the crockpot or oven if I add twice the water to fat, and it’s almost perfect in the morning.
Strain it, and take what’s left and fry it up. (These are called “cracklings” and are the food of the gods.) I add just a little salt and pepper to the cracklings, and store it in a glass jar in the freezer. I put it on salads, on mashed potatoes, anything where you want a little bit of crunchy salty bits of heavenly goodness. A little goes a long way, and keeping them in the freezer keeps us from eating them all the first day. Yum!