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Photo by Jon Brown

Lard is making a comeback. Brussels sprouts, french fries, a chicken leg or pie crust-all better with lard. And despite it's reputation as a sinister fat enemy of arteries, recent reports are showing that it's actually a healthier choice than many of the other options, including butter. It contains just 40 percent saturated fat and has 45 percent monounsaturated fat. In comparison, butter has nearly 60 percent saturated fat and only 23 percent good, monounsaturated fat. Olive oil is 75% monounsaturated fat I was lucky enough to be part of butchering a mangalista-red waddle pig, that is known for it's high fat content and light yet flavorful lard. You can visit the Instructable on jointing this whole hog here.

Step 1: Cut Lard Into Cubes

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If you are butchering a pig, or have a piece of fatback, cut the lard into cubes approximately 1" big. You can then freeze it and use it later, or set it in a pan on the stove on very low heat.

Step 2: Simmer for About 2 Hours

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Keep your flame set about a simmer range. The heat will evaporate the water and melt the fat. If it's too hot, it will scorch. Heat melts the fat and draws it out of the surrounding tissue; it also evaporates the water in the fat. You can't just crank up the gas, though, or the fat will scorch. When the bubbling slows down, you can stop cooking. When you remove it from the heat, strain out the remaining crispy bits. These are cracklings and very good while hot, but then not so great when they cool off.

Step 3: Store Lard

Photo by Jon Brown

Once you've strained the lard, pour it into small containers. It will keep frozen for up to 2 years, and in the fridge for several weeks. Traditionally, tamales are made with lard. Check out the Instructable on how to make adobo pork tamales.

Step 4: Use Your Lard!

You can cook with lard in the same way you'd use butter. Sauté Brussels sprouts-as pictured here, they are sauteed in lard, finished with balsamic vinegar, and then tossed with apples and blue cheese. Add to masa for tamale dough, deep fry anything...Lard adds a silky, savory flavor that's particularly great with autumn and winter foods.

<p>Real lard is definitely one of the healthiest sources of fat you can eat, but I won't buy lard in the store, because its label says it includes hydrogenated fats, which I will not eat.</p><p>Any ideas where you can get fatback, when you're not slaughtering your own pigs?</p>
<p>I have the same question. No access to a real butcher &amp; I don't want to buy the store lard. My mom always used lard in her pie crusts and they were always very good.</p>
<p>I've also rendered lard in my crock pot. Just put cubes in the crockpot, and cook for 6-8 hrs on low. Easy way to do it, without worrying about scorching it.</p>
<p>The lard from the kidney area is called &quot;leaf lard&quot; and is used for making crusts/pastries. Backfat is call plain lard, and used in regular cooking.</p><p>Custom butchers will can save the back fat for you, but whoever does the 'kill' would be the one to get the leaf lard from (when they clean out the innards of the hog).</p>
<p>Yowza! Cracklings in mashed potatoes sounds good. </p>
<p>Thanks for sharing. My dad makes this every year several times in January when its sausage making season. You pretty much make it the same way. On the stove top rendered with a whole onion. Then when rendered enough, you have lard and those wonderful crackings to mix in to mashed potatoes, green beans and other things you use your imagination in. :) </p>
<p>Btw we store the lard in mason jars as well as the cracklings. Jelly jars work well too. </p>
Many butchers give away some fatback, beef fat I find free for the taking. Your cracklings will taste better if you oven render them on a rack over a cookie sheet. It pulls out more lard too. Try the cracklings in your salad.

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