Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Food & Wine


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

All You Can Eat

Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

E-mail| RSS feeds Subscribe | KPLU Food for Thought podcast| Blog Home

October 15, 2008 2:16 PM

Praise the lard -- and pass the pie

Posted by Nancy Leson

Today on my radio show Food for Thought, my pal Stein and I chewed the fat about leaf lard, discussing what it is (the precious fat surrounding a pig's kidneys), where you can buy it (I'll get to that in a minute) and why anyone in their right mind would willingly ingest something as grotesque looking as this:

Here's the short -- and incredibly flaky -- answer:



Having read food writer Melissa Clark's trial-by-error tale of finding pie-crust perfection -- thanks to a pig and its kidney-fat -- I've long had a hankering to perfect my own pie-making skills by injecting my crust with some leaf lard love. This fall, I finally got around to doing so, and was rendered speechless with success, thanks to these fine pork products:



The first time I made pastry using Clark's "perfect crust" formula (70 percent unsalted butter, 30 percent leaf lard), I used rendered lard purchased at the Sea Breeze Farm stall at the University District Farmers Market. The 8-ounce jar cost $7. Consulting my favorite pie recipe (Old-fashioned Bottom-Crust Apple Pie, from my much-stained Martha Stewart's "Quick Cook") I fashioned a couple of tiny tarts. But first I tweaked the recipe to account for the lard in 70/30 measure -- and for the fact that this summer we'd harvested, pitted and frozen these. . .



. . .intent on using the beloved fruit of our Montmorency trees for moments such as this one . . .



Those tarts, layered with apples, cherries and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar, were the start of a pie-making frenzy. One that required additional lard. And that's when I decided to save some money and render the stuff myself. Finding whole leaf lard isn't easy (or at least I didn't think it was until I ran into Jon Rowley last week and he said, "I have two words for you: "Dietrich's Meats"). But I've twice scored with a hunk of frozen fat from the folks at Samish Bay Cheese (first at the Edmonds Farmers Market and last week at the U-District farmer's market). You might try your local specialty butcher:



I cut the lard into pieces, pulverized it in my Cuisinart, schmeared it into a roasting pan and slowly rendered the fat in the oven for a couple of hours at about 250-degrees. Next, I poured the rendered riches through a fine sieve into a canning jar, snacked on the cracklings (my Bubbie would have called those gribenes) and -- Praise the lard! -- turned about ten bucks worth of fat, sinew and je ne sais quoi into a quart of liquid gold:



Last weekend, I baked a pie with some of the most extraordinary apples I've ever tasted -- terrifically tart Prairie Spy -- purchased at the University District Farmers Market, as was another two pounds of frozen leaf lard, now holding court next the Ziploc'd cherries in my downstairs freezer:



And if you're wondering how it tasted once baked, allow me to quote Melissa Clark who had this to say in her ode to odious-looking pig fat:

"Carefully confected with part butter and part freshly rendered lard, this pie pastry was everything baking-book authors and bloggers wax poetic about: a golden-brown-around-the-edges epiphany richly flavored and just salty enough to contrast with the sweet apple filling, the texture as flaky as a croissant but still crisp. It shattered when you bit it, then melted instantly on the tongue."

Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

Advertising

Marketplace

Sidewinder can go 93 mph over sandnew
(Gray Design) Gray Design Sidewinder This hypothetical dune buggy is the work of Eduard Gray of Sweden-based Gray Design. It's powered by an 8.4-liter...
Post a comment

Advertising

Advertising

Categories
Calendar

May

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31            
Browse the archives

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

Food for Thought | Nancy Leson on KPLU

Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

Restaurant roundups


Twitter
    follow me on Twitter