Introduction: Rendering Pork Lard

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

Photo by Jon Brown

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

Photo by Jon Brown

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.