Leaf lard is the fat that surrounds the pig’s kidneys. It is of very high quality and, when rendered, makes some of the best tasting and flakiest crusts ever!
Don’t let the name lard put you off. It is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than butter.
I was introduced to leaf lard when I was given a one pound container some years ago.
The creamy white substance looked similar to store bought shortening my grandma used in liberal amounts. She was the pie-baker in the family but went to her grave with her crust recipe!
I’d always heard lard makes the best crusts. Searching it out, all I could find was the boxed stuff in the grocery store international section and wondered if there might be another option.
The gift of this little tub was a great opportunity to learn and I got right to work experimenting. I made crust after crust, trying to get the right ratio of butter and lard to create a pie crust that is
and easy to work with.
The Great Pie Crust Quest took over two years of work. Friends were ever-willing testers, offering feedback, suggestions and encouragement, every step of the way.
Some days I made four versions of crust to try, tweaking amounts of butter, leaf lard, water, not to mention flour, a whole subject in itself.
Others have discovered this old-fashioned ingredient, too. Lorna Yee (Seattle Magazine and Cookbook Chronicles) calls it her “porcine secret”. Ashley Rodriguez has a short video about rendering your own on her blog, notwithoutsalt in which she demonstrates one method to make your own. And, I spent a lovely afternoon with Shauna (Gluten Free Girl) and Danny Ahern (pork, knife & spoon) testing out some gluten-free crust recipes made with leaf lard.
A few months back, I started rendering my own. It’s quite easy to do.
Give it a try!
An Update (Aug 25, 2011) :
I’ve been asked about how much leaf lard do I use. I go through about 50 pounds of leaf lard in my workshops each month. If you buy it already rendered, you can store it in your freezer for one year and atleast six months in the fridge.