I scored a kilo of pig fat from the Ginger Pig and I was going to render it into lard. Rendered fat is definitely having a moment. There was a report the other week saying how good lard is for you. It has less saturated fat, more monounsaturated fat and has no trans fats. I can only translate that to mean it’s pure, white and not so deadly. The other day Nigella tweeted a picture of a bowl of chicken fat she’d made herself. And, in case more proof is needed, m’lud, I’ve been cooking all winter with goose fat from a jar from the supermarket and been very happy with it.
I spent hours reading about it, both online and in Jennifer Maclagen’s treatise in praise of the white stuff, Fat. The consensus seemed to be that the best lard is made from the fat surrounding a pig’s kidneys and is called leaf lard. I talked to the butcher at The Ginger Pig. He held up half a pig, sawn in two like something by Damien Hirst. He showed me the kidney, surrounded by a layer of fat too meagre to get much lard from. Inside the ribs was a large blanket of fat. That’s the stuff to use. I muttered something I’d read about the size of fat crystals. He scoffed politely at this. Making lard is something he’d done a lot of. He knows more than I do. We talked about how best to melt it. Slowly, was his advice. I’ll take the big bit, I said. He didn’t charge me a penny. Why do people go to supermarkets?
I got it home and unwrapped it. Raw pig fat is not pretty. It feels like the waxiest wax candles. There wasn’t much odour. I took off a papery membrane then cut the fat into large cubes. I threw it into a pot and turned the heat to 1.
It took time but eventually I had a pot of crystal clear hot fat. I poured it, through two layers of muslin, into a sterilised kilner jar. When it was cool I closed the lid and put it in the fridge. In a few hours I had a jar of pearly-white, hand-rendered lard. I was a proud man.