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In the Kitchen: The best way to render lard at home

_MG_1180 - Version 2

The star of my Christmas haul this year has to be the meat grinder Tammi bought for me. After I read about the Alfa MC5 on Michael Ruhlman's holiday gift guide, it immediately made it to the top of my wishlist.

Once I opened it up, my first task was clear: grinding up some fatback to render lard. See the hows and wherefores after the jump.

Before the holiday,s I was chatting with some of the guys at Dickson's Farmstand about the the pile of fatback I picked up in North Carolina in the fall.

My previous method of rendering lard worked, but I always felt like I wasn't quite getting as much out of it as I could. The first tip I got was that I should always grind the fatback before rendering it. This allows more fat to melt out instead of getting stuck inside a block of detritus.

The second tip was to pour about an inch of water into the bottle of the pot when rendering. By keeping the water at the bottom (and not boiling), the pork fat never rises about 212 degrees. It melts slower and never scorches leaving a luscious, white fluffy lard in the end, ideal for pie crusts and baking.

The last tip I recall is that after rendering the first batch, you can strain out the solids and render it again to yield some of that golden lard that isn't quite as pretty or 'clean' as the white lard, still has plenty of good uses.

Now that I have a new batch of lard, it's time to get back to making confit and rillettes at home. That's not to mention all the meatballs, skewers and sausages I've got on my mental to-do list. Stay tuned.

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