Tag Archives: lard

Homemade Rendered Lard

From Homemade Rendered Lard

Lard…the four letter word. Like one of my other favorite four letter words, if used in moderation, it can add emphasis and an added oomph…and let’s face it, sometimes, just sometimes, there is no other word that can be used that will properly express your feelings as well as that four letter word.

Lard makes things taste good. I’m going to repeat that, because it bears repeating. Lard makes things taste good! That is all I’m really concerned about here on Nola Cuisine, making things taste good, and making people happy with food, and by people, I mostly mean me and my family. I share my thoughts and hope you enjoy them too.

Lard makes things taste good, when things taste good, they make me feel good, when I feel good, it lowers my stress level, and believe me, the stress is going to kill me far before the lard does.

I use lard in moderation mind you, I’m not condoning cooking every meal in lard, but when you’re making that Sunday supper of Fried Chicken…nothing is going to make that crust crispier or more flavorful than lard (unless maybe you add some bacon fat as well.) If you only make Pies once or twice a year and you KNOW that Leaf lard makes THE BEST pie crust, why not use it? How much is each guest going to have? One Piece? Two? If this were a pie eating contest you should be concerned. It’s not. Use what yields the best results.

When talking about lard, I’m talking about homemade rendered lard. I don’t like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, which is a mixture of lard and hydrogenated lard. It tastes funny in my humble opinion, it has a chemical like aftertaste. I’m not a chemist or a scientist, I don’t know what the hell they do to hydrogenate fats or oils (by the way I don’t want to know, for the comments section…kinda kidding). I do believe however that the processed foods are the foods that are killing us, or better said that we’re killing ourselves with. I’m not a crazy organic guy, but lets be honest, we’re killing ourselves with all of this mass produced crap. We really are, I’m no exception.

Make your own lard. Use it for special occasions, or for your favorite dishes where it applies. Use it in moderation and ENJOY it! Don’t stress about it! Enjoy life! Our culture has us stressed about everything under the sun, we’re afraid of our own shadows for God’s sake…it’s ridiculous. The dinner table is really our only place to relax (when we can even make it there), so when you sit down at the dinner table, relax! Free your mind and indulge in GOOD cooking and good company!

Here’s how to make homemade lard, the same application applies for duck fat…another post. (Stepping off of my soapbox)

How to make homemade Rendered Lard

2 lbs. Clean Fresh Pork Fat cut into 1/2″ cubes (I usually use back fat because I can find it locally. Leaf Fat is the best and is preferred for baking purposes)
1/2 Cup water

Some important notes:

*Use only CLEAN, FRESH fat. If the fat has an off flavor, your lard will have an off flavor. The fresher the better! I get my pork fat from a polish butcher here in Michigan where I live, who, by the way, also has a ton of house made rendered lard for sale! The polish word is “Smalec.”

*Cut the fat into equal sized pieces, this helps to prevent some pieces from geting too brown before others, which will give the lard an off flavor.

*Remove all lean meat from the fat before rendering.

*1/4 cup of water is added to the pot for each pound of pork fat. This keeps the fat from burning or browning in the pot, before the fat starts rendering. The water will evaporate away.

The Process:

Add the fat and water to a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven:

From July 18, 2011

Cook the fat and water at medium-high heat until you start to see the fat really start to liquify in the pot, turn the heat to low. Cook slowly for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Your lard is ready when the remnants in the pot, now called cracklings are golden brown.

From July 18, 2011

Strain the cracklings in a fine mesh strainer, obviously reserving your beautiful golden homemade lard.

From July 18, 2011

Drain the cracklings on paper towels season them with salt and snack on them, or use them to make Crackling Corn Bread!

From July 18, 2011

Place into a clean, dry container, I use a French Market Coffee can, and store in the refrigerator for at least six months. Use to make Fried Chicken that looks like this and tastes even better!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

From July 18, 2011

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes featured at Nola Cuisine!

Homemade Tasso Recipe

Tasso (TAH-so) is a smoked seasoning meat used to flavor dishes like Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice. Tasso used to be made from the trim after an Acadian Hog Boucherie, thin strips, heavily seasoned, dried, then smoked for hours. These days however, most of the Tasso that is available is a little more fancy, more of a ham than the style of the old days, mine is somewhere in between. I always find it amazing how ingredients and recipes, that basically came from scrap and the poorest times evolve into Gourmet, I love it. Tasso will keep in the freezer and is pretty easy to make, but you have to do a little planning.
A few Tips:
After seasoning it, I recommend keeping it in the fridge, at least 3 days to let it cure, look at how nice and pink the center is.
Take it easy on the Cayenne when making your seasoning blend, start off with a small amount, then add to your taste, the amount here is moderate. It should have some heat, but I don’t like losing control of the heat in a dish I’m cooking because my Tasso was too hot, so I cut it back a little, for the same reason that you don’t salt stocks.
Here is my recipe for Tasso. I used a Boneless Pork Roast cut into about 4-5 inch long, 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. This is seasoning for about 5 lbs of pork:

Homemade Tasso Recipe

5 lbs Pork cut as described above
Seasoning:

3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cayenne or To Taste (see above)
4 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp White Pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Mix the seasoning together well. Rub the seasoning into the meat, you want a lot on there, call it 1/8 inch, use it all. Place on a plate or tray, cover and refrigerate 3 days.

Before smoking put the Tasso on an elevated rack so that air can circulate around it, then put a fan on it for about 2 hours to dry it out. I also don’t use a water pan when smoking Tasso, this is something that I actually want to dry out during the smoking process.

I hot smoked this batch in an inexpensive upright barrel smoker using charcoal as the heat source (heated with a chimney starter, no lighter fluid or matchlight coals please.) I used Pecan chips that were soaked in water for 1 hour for the smoke.
I smoked this a total of about 4 hours, the first 2 hours at about 150-160 degrees F. The second two hours at 180-190 degrees F.
The object is to get as much smoke into the meat, before cooking it all the way through. I brought the internal temperature of the meat to 150 degrees F in the last 2 hours of smoking.
When finished I again put the Tasso in front of a fan for about 1 hour. Refrigerate. When completely cold portion and store the Tasso in vacuum sealed packages. Freeze.

Makes 5 lbs of Tasso

Related Links:

Andouille Sausage Recipe
Chaurice Sausage Recipe
Pickle Meat Recipe
More on Tasso:
Check out these Pics at Egullet of Wayne Jacob’s beautiful Tasso and Andouille, made the old way in LaPlace, Louisiana.