Lard: The New Health Food?
August 30, 2008 9:36 AM   Subscribe

As I sent my friends home bathed in the warm glow of hog grease, I felt sure that our generation would pass the test of lard. We might not cook with it every night—natural lard is expensive and (all right, I'll admit it) deep-fried foods are often loaded with calories, no matter which fat you use. But we won't live in fear of it, either. When we want deep-fried excellence, we'll reach for the best fat for the job: lard. posted by jason's_planet (30 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Considering that lard is the tapeworm in the bottle of cheap tequila that comes alive at night and sneaks up and bites your nipple, I'm skeptical of these health claims.
posted by decagon at 9:44 AM on August 30, 2008 [4 favorites]

Interesting. Like the author, I don't think I've ever eaten lard except in the odd pie crust (we use shortening or butter mostly) but unlike the author I don't think I'll head down to the old-timey butcher and get some pork fat to render. If someone wants to invite me over for dinner though...
posted by arcticwoman at 9:57 AM on August 30, 2008

Lard has its place, but I prefer beef dripping.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2008

Of course being British, all this shock! horror! LARD! stuff is highly amusing... it really is the only thing to fry chips in. And lardy cake is delicious (not to mention mince pies etc)

Oh and whilst googling for this Viz spoof advert, I was surprised that people take it seriously

There's been an interesting series of documentaries on food on Radio 4 recently. One interesting point was that with Britain's climate it was far more efficient to get fat from pigs that from cereal / olive oil etc. So come the long-term effects of the oil crunch and the growing expense of fertilizer we might be eating a lot more lard in the future...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:12 AM on August 30, 2008

For best pastry results, use leaf lard. Very hard to obtain though.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:36 AM on August 30, 2008

I used know a guy who would always fry hamburger patties in lard, he didn't know they would fry in their own fat. Yes, he was overweight.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Rendered my own lard recently for use in pie crusts (thanks Thundering Hooves pigs). There truly is nothing like it. Best crusts I've ever made, bar none. None of that pasty coating crisco leaves in your mouth, and not so overwhelmingly rich as a pure butter crust. Just pure flaky, melting delicate wonderfulness.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:10 AM on August 30, 2008

Interesting. Like the author, I don't think I've ever eaten lard except in the odd pie crust

Lard was a not-uncommon ingredient in processed and fast foods until the CSPI pressured industry to switch to polyunsaturated laden oils in the 80's, only to do a complete reversal in the 90's and recommend against them. McDonald's stopped using lard 1986, and the fries were never the same.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 11:29 AM on August 30, 2008

In the north of England, particularly Yorkshire, chip shops fry in beef dripping. Utterly delicious chips, non-vegetarian though.

Oh, fearfulsymmetry, lardy cake! My nana used to make incredible lardy cake. I've never tasted anything that comes close to such cakey perfection.
posted by essexjan at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2008

Rendered my own lard recently for use in pie crusts

That's taking self-sufficiency too far. Oh, I see.
posted by BinaryApe at 11:54 AM on August 30, 2008 [6 favorites]

Having just arrived home from the 2008 Burlington Ribfest, all I can say is bring on the lard!
posted by autodidact at 1:11 PM on August 30, 2008

When I was in college I lived in an apartment with three other guys and we alternated going grocery shopping. We had a weekly budget of $4 for Weirdest Food Item, and we would try to buy something that would puzzle and astound our fellow roomies. One week I brought home celery juice. Another week my roommate brought home lavender chewing gum. Stuff like that.

Then one week the Weird Food Item was... a brick of lard.

I objected. I'm from the deep south -- I grew up in a kitchen where lard was a common ingredient. How else do you make a flaky pie crust, or properly brown potatoes? Hell, my mom even owns a larding needle.

Turns out none of these guys had even seen a brick of lard, much less cooked with it.

But they all really enjoyed the potatoes I made that week.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:43 PM on August 30, 2008

I always think it's funny how every decent cookbook will promote duck or goose fat as the ultimate in fashionable Gascon Paradox roasting goodness, when in a lot of recipes you can just whack in a block of good, cheap, old fashioned lard from the butcher instead of a pricey jar of fat from the delicatessen, and never notice the difference.

Also: lardy cake is the pudding you get in heaven if the Baby Jesus thinks you've been extra good boy or girl that day (after a main course featuring boiled-fried potatoes done in lard.)
posted by jack_mo at 2:01 PM on August 30, 2008

Lard has its place, but I prefer beef dripping.

It's what toast was invented for.

Also, I now have an overwhelming urge to eat Yorkshire puddings.
posted by jack_mo at 2:03 PM on August 30, 2008

"As I sent my friends home bathed in the warm glow of hog grease,"

Rule 34?
posted by orthogonality at 2:10 PM on August 30, 2008

Obigatory Viz T-shirt link
posted by lalochezia at 3:06 PM on August 30, 2008

Leaf lard is not difficult to acquire at all. If you are willing to have things shipped example here I can vouch for the quality of this. I usually buy my own hog and work out the details but you can definitely go smaller than a hog of that size.
posted by jadepearl at 4:10 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

The lard works in mysterious ways.
posted by Flashman at 4:32 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've been saving that one up for years, waiting for a chance to slip it into some conversation or other. At 12.32AM, 31/08/08 I finally had my opportunity
posted by Flashman at 4:35 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the leaf lard link, jadepearl. Not often to run across someone who buys the whole hog. Which reminds me of a great cookbook, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
posted by stbalbach at 6:10 PM on August 30, 2008

This article originally appeared in December, 2005.
posted by matteo at 7:51 PM on August 30, 2008

You're welcome stbalbach. The trick is having storage and a plan for how the hog is going be parted out. The hardest part for me is that I still have to buy from reliable suppliers deeply favored parts such as, pork belly. Also, a butcher who is willing to do certain style of cuts. Tomorrow will be slow smoke cook two racks of ribs. The irony of cooking is that I have to force myself to eat what I cook. I eat a certain amount to be polite but I am much more interested in others' reactions or the intellectual processing of the final, finished item.

If you are in the Twin Cities mefimail and I will cook you a meal or two.
posted by jadepearl at 8:35 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you would really like to learn about fats I would highly suggest you read Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill: The Complete Guide to Fats, Oils, Cholesterol and Human Health.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:50 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

My mom used to keep a bucket like this next to the stove. Heat up the frying pan and then "GLOP!" a big chunk of lard right into the pan.

After years of this, I'm alive and healthy which I suppose should be testament enough.
posted by vacapinta at 5:54 AM on August 31, 2008

This explains why I'm not dead after a childhood of being fed lard and sugar sandwiches by grandma.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 5:56 AM on August 31, 2008

Praise the lard and pass the (deep-fried) ammunition! My mother's mother used to fry chicken in lard, and between that and the pole beans slow cooked with fatback, the creamy mashed potatoes, baking soda biscuits, and lardy-crusted fried sweet potato pies, it was some of the best eating of my life.
posted by notashroom at 8:52 AM on August 31, 2008

My grandfather owned a butcher shop and people would come in and say "Sid, I need a pound of gravy." He would ring up a block of lard and send them merrily on their way. He knew that they did just what he did, melt a pot of lard on the stove top and pour it over his potatoes. Umm gravy!
posted by leron at 12:16 PM on September 1, 2008

So happens that if you live in Canda (in Ontario at least), you can buy Tenderflake lard made by Maple Leaf, and it's non-hydrogenated. Yep, refrigerated, yummy pure lard. Enjoy. :)

Tenderflake Lard
posted by Vamier at 5:35 AM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can you use the Tenderflake Lard for frying? I love deep frying, it's my new zen!
posted by autodidact at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2008

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