Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why Lard?

I had a couple of readers ask about the purpose of lard and how we would use it. I thought the answer was so obvious, I failed to put in the previous post. We would use lard for cooking!

Ah, but there's more to it than that. Lard historically has been used where we now use butter or other vegetable oils. Despite its somewhat nasty reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than butter. And, unlike margarine or shortening, lard contains no trans fat.

I don't happen to live in Iowa or, tragically, Italy, so corn and olive oils are not local foods. Nor do they provide the right kind of "mouthfeel" for moist but flakey baked goods. Lard also has a relatively high smoke point, producing little smoke when heated and is more stable at higher temperatures. To read all about lard, check out the wikipedia article for more benefits for cooking.

Of special note is that the kind of back fat I showed in the pictures does not come from modern pork pigs. You need a heritage pig bred to create fat (which most of our fat phobic dieters abhor) and it needs to live outside to be stimulated to produce more than 1" of fat under the skin. Our pig was a Tamworth x Berkshire.

As for our uses, we will use small amounts of lard for frying up meats so they don't stick to the pan. We will make tortillas and pie crusts, including quiche. We recently used it to grease a pan for bread pudding, using up old, stale homemade bread. Basically, we will use lard for anything we would use oil for if the food combines well with a more "savory" fat.

Once my goats are in production and I am making homemade butter, the hope is to limit our olive oil use to just what is required, such as marinating mozzarella (which, in my opinion is a "need" and not a "want"). Olive oil, like tea and coffee, are not produced locally so will figure into the 30% we allow ourselves to come outside of our sphere of influence.


Andrea said...

I changed my mind about the "urrrp" when I heard moist and flaky baked goods. Now I'd like to say, "mmmmmmm."

B said...

Oh, moist flaky baked goods. How I love thee...

If you have an idiot-proof pie crust recipe, I'd love to hear it. I'm a total dunce when it comes to pastry.