Home-Rendered Recipes

Get back to that old-fashioned flavor reminiscent of your grandma’s table with these recipes for cooking with lard.

| September/October 2018

  • Rendering lard can be done at home with just a few simple supplies.
    Photo by Getty Images/Szakaly

If you look at pictures of pigs from more than half a century ago, you’ll see that most of them look a lot fatter than today’s commercial animals. That’s because the pork industry took a big hit when the medical community targeted fat in the mid-20th century. Old-fashioned lard pig breeds quickly fell out of favor, and pork began being advertised as “the other white meat.” Hogs are making a comeback today, though, thanks to the increasing demand for pastured pork and the rising popularity of charcuterie, or cured meats.

Because friends know how health-conscious I am, they’re sometimes surprised to hear me talk about cooking with lard. But pork from our heirloom American Guinea hogs is my favorite meat. The American Guinea hog has outstanding flavor, is a good charcuterie pig, and has an abundant supply of lard.

Lard is my preferred cooking fat for meats and vegetables, and I only use lard from our own farm’s pastured hogs. Commercial lard, normally found in grocery stores, has been so highly processed that it contains trans fats, which are best avoided in a healthy diet. Our lard is about 50 percent monounsaturated fat, which is what makes olive oil so healthy. I can’t grow olives in Illinois, but I can raise pigs!

If you’re interested in self-sufficiency, keeping pigs is the easiest way to produce your own cooking fat. Rendering lard can be done in a slow cooker or in your oven without purchasing any fancy equipment. You can find my advice for rendering lard in your own kitchen on Page 20; in addition, here are a few of my favorite lard-based recipes.

Rendering Lard

One of the reasons we switched from raising Tamworths to American Guinea hogs is that the latter are a lard breed. Although they’re about half the size of Tamworths at harvest, we end up with three or four times as much lard. A 100-pound American Guinea typically provides about 20 to 25 pounds of fat.

8/19/2018 5:15:15 PM

Does the lard need to be refrigerated or can it be processed in a water bath or pressure cooker. That way no more energy is used for the lard.

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