Rendering Leaf Lard

Leaf lard surrounds a pig’s kidneys and is of very high quality.  Leaf lard enjoyed a revered place on the baking counter, until it was usurped in the early part of the 20th century by the brilliant needs no refrigeration marketing campaign of vegetable shortening.

To Render:

  • Ask your butcher for leaf lard and not back fat.   Five to 6 pounds is a decent amount to make 4 or 5 pints worth. Look at it to make sure it doesn’t have a lot, or preferably any red meat on it. If it has a lot, it may be back fat which is not as high quality.
  • With a clean sharp knife, chop the fat into small pieces about the size of an almond.
  • Cover the bottom of a heavyweight stockpot with a bit of water. Spread the pieces of fat evenly over the surface of the pan.
  • Turn the burner to low, and set the pot on top. Then relax and stir occasionally while the fat melts. The white fat will turn clear as it melts. Five to 6 pounds of fat can take three hours or so in the oven, but less time on the stovetop.
  • Be sure that the fat doesn’t scorch or it will give a noticeable flavor to the finished leaf lard.
  • When most of the pieces are melted, carefully pour the clear hot fat through a double layer of cheesecloth and into a bowl. Ladle out any remaining fat bits and finish by ladling into jars. Let cool completely before you put on the lids.
  • To freeze, you can let the rendered leaf lard cool completely in the bowl, weigh out 4-ounce pieces, individually wrap, and freeze in dated freezer bags.
  • When you feel a pie making or biscuit session coming on, you’re already one step ahead.

 

Schmaltz Mit Gribenes: Ashkenazic Rendered Chicken Fat with Cracklings

Schmaltz or schmalts in Yiddish (from the Middle High German smalz, “animal fat”) is the generic Yiddish term for animal fat, but more specifically and colloquially, it denotes melted and purified poultry fat. Schmaltz became to Ashkenazic cooking what olive oil was to Mediterranean food, indispensable for frying and cooking, and as a flavoring agent.”

~ Gil Marks, “The Encyclopedia Of Jewish Food

  • Skin and fat from 8 chicken thighs (or 2 cups reserved chicken skin and fat) *
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 onion, cut into medium dice

Chop chicken fat and skin and add to a small amount of water to begin the rendering at a gentle temperature.  Once the water and the moisture in the fat and skin have cooked off, the fat can rise above 212 degrees and the browning can begin.  When the skin is lightly browned and plenty of fat has been rendered, add the chopped onion.

Be careful not to overcook. It should remain clear and yellow, not brown with an overly roasted flavor.  The browned skin and onion, called gribenes are delicious.  Strain the fat and reserve the gribenes. The schmaltz is ready to use, to refrigerate for up to a week, or to freeze. The gribenes should also be refrigerated or frozen

* Where do I get the chicken fat?

Make roast chicken once a week. Before you roast it, pull off all the fat you see and trim all the skin you won’t need. Store the fat and skin in the freezer, until you have plenty to render for schmaltz

 

Poultry Cut Profile: Foie Gras

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Description: Foie gras is the fattened liver of either duck or goose produced by a special feeding process. Foie gras is a luxurious product at once velvety and meaty.  Duck and goose foie gras have always been considered a rare delicacy and are usually reserved for special occasions.

Meat Characteristics: Foie gras is smooth and rich with a subtle and complex flavor. Goose liver is delicate and unctuous; duck liver is rich and earthy. Goose liver is best for terrines; duck liver is best for searing.

How much should I buy: Buy as much foie gras as you can afford; a typical portion weighs 2 to 4 ounces.

Common Flavor Combinations: Allspice, apples, bacon, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, cloves, cognac, figs, grapes, mangoes, nutmeg, pears, port wine, raisins, shallots, truffles, white truffle oil.

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