Those who know me know I am a huge fan of lard.
Lard is 40% saturated fat to butter’s 50%. So if you eat butter you really should also be eating lard with a certain amount of gay abandon, unless you have a religious reason not to, of course, or if you are a vegetarian. Good quality lard (as opposed to the bright white block of industrial goo you get in the supermarket) is available from good butchers, although you almost always have to order it in advance. I order and buy my lard from the Ginger Pig and delicious it is too. It’s organic, flavourful and just bursting with nutrients that you only get in an animal fat. It has a high smoke point which means you can fry with it at high temperatures without it breaking down and becoming dangerous to your health. I fry things in it. I add it to bread dough for a super savoury flavour and a wonderful soft texture. I grease tins with it unless I know I am baking for someone who does not eat it, and then I use butter. Always grease a tin with hard fat – it works better than oil.
As I listen to this week’s Food Programme about fat I am inspired to eat bread and butter for dinner.
But then – wait – I remember what I have in the fridge so I pull out the shmaltz. It does not take a lot for me to pull schmaltz out of the fridge. It is either lard or goose fat or a blend of the two. It has sauteed onion and spices in it and, in my case, it has “grieben” – crunchy bits left in it from the rendering process (the process of melting it down). You would not cook with this – it exists to be spread on bread. It is easy to make: get some good quality pork fat from the butcher and melt it down on low heat. If you want it smooth, strain out the bits. Pour it into clean jars and put it fridge. If you want to add sauteed onion, simply sautee the onion (in the melted fat) and add it in before it hardens.
Delicious on any bread and fantastically so on a rye sourdough which is, itself, highly flavoured. This one is 50% rye and 50% whole wheat with barley malt, seeds, grains, and a pinch each of ground coriander and cumin. Really – it’s dinner for a king.
Lard me up.