bowl with lard, rosemary, lilac onion and wooden spoon on jute
Food - Drink
The Best Type Of Lard For Baking (& Where You Can Find It)
Lard has become more associated with heart disease than good cooking, but this bad rep is undeserved. Lard is actually lower in saturated fat than some other products and performs tasks in the kitchen that other fats can't do half as well, and neutrally-flavored leaf lard makes amazing pastries that bakers won't want to miss out on.
What Is Leaf Lard?
Leaf lard comes from a leaf-shaped section of fat around the pig's kidneys and loin. Most processed lard is made up of miscellaneous fat from all over the pig, but leaf lard exclusively comes from this area, and is whiter, softer, and purer than any other type of lard, with a more neutral and less porky flavor.
How It's Made
To make your own leaf lard, go to a butcher and ask for pasture-raised pork leaf fat. You'll have to render it using a slow cooker or a Dutch oven, either on the stovetop or in the oven, then strain out small particles of solid pork at the end of the rendering process, which gives you a bonus snack of cracklings.
The best leaf lard should be odorless and flavorless, bringing nothing but a crispy texture to the table. This is what bakers need to create a sweet, crisp, and flaky pastry with almost no pork flavor, but if you want to create something savory like a meat pie, other kinds of lard or even bacon grease will do.
How To Use
Lard is best used in recipes that require flaky crusts or lamination, like pie or biscuits. Lard is far more solid than butter and less prone to melting, so when worked into a dough, it's sure to leave tiny pockets of fat throughout the pastry that will melt and puff up in the oven, for a perfectly flaky treat with far less effort.