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.
- 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.