Thursday, November 11, 2010

Totally Not Kosher

So the other day I took delivery of half of an organic, pasture raised pig. It's not something I've done before, this bulk purchasing of meat, but we have a like-minded neighbor, foodwise, and after a few conversations about the extra effort involved with obtaining what I refer to as non-skank meat where we live, we both decided we should pursue a straight-from-the-farmer approach.
It has been an interesting adventure, and although we've only just eaten a pound of the porky booty, I'm thrilled with the outcome.
One of the bonus points to the whole thing are that I got to communicate directly with the processor and give instructions for how I wanted our side of pork processed. There were MANY questions on their part, most of which I didn't really have a specific answer to, but fortunately the person at the shop was patient and helpful. Anyway, one of those questions was "Do you want the lard?"
YES! Of course!
Well, little did I know that "the lard" straight from the butcher is a whole bunch of unrendered lard. A WHOLE BUNCH.
big bag o lard

I know, Fight Club, right?

So after a little googling to get the low down on rendering lard, the big wad of fat and I had a standoff in the kitchen.
big bag o lard and knife
And because I was too lazy to go out and buy a big turkey fryer pot, it went into all three of my largish stock pots.
pots of lard
And we were off and rendering.
three pots rendering

and rendering
still rendering

and rendering
cooking cracklins

Pretty much the entire afternoon later, I have three gallons of freshly rendered organic lard and two quarts of cracklins. Delicious booty that it would be nearly impossible to purchase anywhere.
three gallons of rendered lard

A totally worthwhile project. Slightly messy, but only because I accidentally let the pot of cracklings boil over which resulted in Lake Pork Fat on my rangetop. Oops.
Anyway, I'm already looking forward to the tamales and the fried chicken and all the other delicious lardy stuff. And I'm wondering what popcorn would be like popped in lard instead of oil?

And in case any of you upper midwesterners are interested, the side of pork came from Good Earth Farms in Miladore, WI. The farmers, Mike and Deb, could not have been easier or more pleasant to deal with. We've received poultry from them already, and are waiting on a side of beef as I type. So far, everything we've eaten has been delicious. I swear you can taste the fresh and happy in their meat.

Your dog looks VERY interested in the lard.
Popcorn popped in lard is great! That's the way we always had it as kids.
I am so jealous of your lard! What a weird sentence to type. When I lived in California, I used to buy amazing fresh porktastic lard from a Mexican butcher shop. Nowadays I buy perfectly respectable, but pretty ho-hum lard at the farmer's market. Never really thought about the possibilities of rendering my own. Maybe I'll have to get that chest freezer I've been thinking about...
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