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In Appreciation of Lard

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by nick909, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    During a bout of insomnia-inspired baking this morning, rubbing lard into flour for a traditional Irish soda bread, it occured to me that whilst lard has had something of a resurgence recently, it's still seen as something to be feared or reviled by most.
    I often use lard as the fat medium in food, in the same way I might use oil, butter, or duck fat. Sometimes to fry the opnions or veg in a casserole, to brown the meat in a braise, as the fat in bread or pastry or as a frying medium in itself, such as when frying eggs or cooking chips. I love the fact that it doesn't burn easily. I love the fact that it is stable. I love the fact that it is cheap. Mainly, I love its taste. I use dripping in the same way as well. I suspect this isn't common though, especially with people of my generation. Yes, I use great tasting olive oils, walnut oils and rapeseed oils, but only where suitable. The ubiquitous olive oil has become a little bit too ubiquitous, in my opinion.
    People have become terrified of lard in the same way they've become terrified of butter and various other animal fats as a result of bad press concerning health. I'm not convinced there's any truth in the links between animal fats and poor health. I'd be more worried about hydrogenated vegetable fat myself. Anything that tinkered with seems odd. The most visible evidence for this is that now, a good twenty or thirty years since animal fats went out of fashion, a nation that is obsessed with dietary health and diets that see animal fats as the work of the devil, is fatter and more unwell than ever in our history. The oft-quoted Norman Paradox, relating to the people of Normandy, whose diets are high in butter, cream and cheese, yet who have low levels of heart disease has some truth in it, I think. Consider also Alaskan Inuits, whose diets are traditionally very high in seal and whale blubber. Yes, they might be considered fat, or even obese by Western standards but again, a remarkably low incidence of heart disease. Yes, there may be other contributing factors to this, but the coincidence is too large not to consider.
    So, to put it briefly, I love lard. I love dripping. I love goose, duck and chicken fat. I love butter.
    Do you? Do you use any of those much? Where do you use them? Any anecdotes, opinions, cooking ideas and recipes welcome!
     
  2. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    During a bout of insomnia-inspired baking this morning, rubbing lard into flour for a traditional Irish soda bread, it occured to me that whilst lard has had something of a resurgence recently, it's still seen as something to be feared or reviled by most.
    I often use lard as the fat medium in food, in the same way I might use oil, butter, or duck fat. Sometimes to fry the opnions or veg in a casserole, to brown the meat in a braise, as the fat in bread or pastry or as a frying medium in itself, such as when frying eggs or cooking chips. I love the fact that it doesn't burn easily. I love the fact that it is stable. I love the fact that it is cheap. Mainly, I love its taste. I use dripping in the same way as well. I suspect this isn't common though, especially with people of my generation. Yes, I use great tasting olive oils, walnut oils and rapeseed oils, but only where suitable. The ubiquitous olive oil has become a little bit too ubiquitous, in my opinion.
    People have become terrified of lard in the same way they've become terrified of butter and various other animal fats as a result of bad press concerning health. I'm not convinced there's any truth in the links between animal fats and poor health. I'd be more worried about hydrogenated vegetable fat myself. Anything that tinkered with seems odd. The most visible evidence for this is that now, a good twenty or thirty years since animal fats went out of fashion, a nation that is obsessed with dietary health and diets that see animal fats as the work of the devil, is fatter and more unwell than ever in our history. The oft-quoted Norman Paradox, relating to the people of Normandy, whose diets are high in butter, cream and cheese, yet who have low levels of heart disease has some truth in it, I think. Consider also Alaskan Inuits, whose diets are traditionally very high in seal and whale blubber. Yes, they might be considered fat, or even obese by Western standards but again, a remarkably low incidence of heart disease. Yes, there may be other contributing factors to this, but the coincidence is too large not to consider.
    So, to put it briefly, I love lard. I love dripping. I love goose, duck and chicken fat. I love butter.
    Do you? Do you use any of those much? Where do you use them? Any anecdotes, opinions, cooking ideas and recipes welcome!
     
  3. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    I love Scmalzbrot! (Like dripping-toast but with a slab of thick German bread!)
    And roasties made with goose-fat!
    I choose to eat butter rather than 'spreads' - and feel it is much healthier. Butter is not packed with unpronouncable additives!
    I came across a recipe for shortbread which suggested you could use a spread instead of butter. Well, I'm sorry but no I couldn't! Shortbrtead needs the rich decadent butteriness that comes from the best butter!

     
  4. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I use it all the time (not sure what 'your generation' is?). In fact, the dripping I use is home produced. Any fat that comes from booking meat, whether it is bacon, lamb, poultry, beef or pork, is carefully drained into a small basin and kept in the fridge. I use it for roasting spuds and it is the best ever for yorkies. Periodically I stand the basin on the Aga for it all to melt together then, when it sets, I get the yummiest meaty jelly in the bottom of the basin which is fabulous in sauces and gravies or, spread on toast!
    Mr Belle used to chuck all this yummy dripping away before I met him. Now he looks at my basin of yummyness with deep suspicion, but dare not touch it......more than his life's worth!
    My own mother, grandmother and generations before used to keep dripping this way.
     
  5. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Brilliant.
    Sorry for the vagueness, I'm in my mid-thirties. A huge generalisation, but I'd suggest that many think of dripping and lard as something associated with my grandparents' generation. My mum used to keep a cup of dripping in the fridge, but even she's stopped that now. She, like many during the eighties, became convinced of the evils of animal fats.
    I know there are plenty my age and similar who have no such worries about the lovely stuff, but I also think that, barring people such as those on the forum, most folk would stay well clear of the stuff.

     
  6. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    OI! Listen to me young Nick! I love dripping and lard and am not anyway near old enough to be your Gran!....Old enough to be your mother (well depending on what 'mid' thirties means....I'm going to be 50 this year!) but not your Gran!
    Omi (my Gran) was a great one for catching all the yummy meat fat and using it in all sorts of delicious ways.
    I still love mashed swede with bacon - you fry the bacon and then pour the bacon fat over the mashed swede - delicious!
    Yes, I'm overweight - but this is in no way linked to my consumption of animal fats. And despite my enjoying the occasional meal of swede with bacon fat, or bread and dripping, I have near-perfect cholesterol and blood-pressure....evnjoy animal fats like everything else , in <u>moderation</u> and as part of a <u>balanced</u> diet.

     
  7. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Heehee! No offence intended Bethannie! I did say that many would make that assumption, not me of course! And I'm thirty-five, so no definitely not my mother, either. Possibly an older sibling [​IMG].
    I agree with everything you've said there. And I applaud your enthusiam! Bacon fat over mashed swede sounds about the most wonderful thing ever, and in fact is making me drool at the very prospect!

     
  8. anon468

    anon468 New commenter

    One of my most favourite things ever is skirlie, made with bacon fat or beef dripping. You can just about get away with it, as the oats counterbalance the naughtiness of the fat.
    Do NOT make skirlie with olive oil or butter. It is just all kinds of wrong.
     
  9. I use lard a lot - not Mount Everest heaps of it, but definitely when baking pastry (half and half method) or making roasties.
    I also save my duck and goose fat if roasting either of them. Roast tatties in goose fat is food of the Gods!
    It is the way I was brought up and none of us have coronary or cholestorine problems - and a bit of dripping on a good slab of bread was - and still is - a right treat!
    Simple but delicious.
    As is black pudding which seems to have gone out of fashion as well.
     
  10. Talking of bacon fat - I pour the fat out of the frying pan onto my FRIED egg.
    Hahaha - the way we are speaking, it makes us sound as if we are all walking lumps of lard!
     
  11. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    My shortcrust pastry isn't the same without lard! I even use it in sweet dishes!
    I always save the fat from roasting meat and put it into the jar next to the cooker which has lettering on it saying 'PORK DRIPPING' and in the moments I am alone in the house I spread it on freshly toasted sourdough and am in heaven.
    Of course, my darling fiance would go mad if he knew this was the case - he is convinced that lard is the root of all evil. If only he knew...
    God, it sounds like I'm in a lard version of AA.
     
  12. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    I wonder if it's the names of some of these things that results in some of the bad press they get.
    Fat, for example, having the same name as the physical condition. If overweight people weren't known as being 'fat' and if the extra layer many of us carry around our middle wasn't called 'fat', would the foodstuff have the same negative association?
    Same with lard. Well before Have I Got News for You famously substituted a tub of lard for Roy Hattersley when he failed to show up for an episode, it's been long seen as something associated with derision and jokes about fat people. Lard-ass, for starters?
    Ironic, that calling someone 'fat' is a derogatory comment, yet to call someone 'sugar', which is arguably at the root of most of the problems in Western diets, is a seen as a sign of affection....[​IMG]
     
  13. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Lardy cake anyone? [​IMG]
     
  14. I think the best pastry is made with half lard/half butter and baked on a proper enamel pie plate.
     
  15. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    I LOVE lardy cake. Never made it, but don't see the need to as the bakers on our road makes the best I've EVER tasted...
     
  16. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Made with LARD!
    Whilst on the subject how's about proper suet? Not vegetable suet...pah!
     
  17. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    There are recipes around theese days that suggest replacing the lard in lardy cake with butter, or even (deep breath) vegetable fat!
    Erm. No thanks, It wouldn't be lardy cake then, would it?!
    Suet is also wonderful but I must confess to using the dried packet Atora stuff. Never bothered to source fresh suet. Must be easy enough to obtain if you pre-warn your butcher, I suppose. the Atora stuff is fine for dumplings and suet pastry, but made with fresh, they must be heavenly. Fergus Henderson has a great looking recipe for lamb kidneys cooked still in their coating of suet.
     
  18. modelmaker

    modelmaker Occasional commenter

    Wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, having tried it. My mother used to grate suet straight off the cow rather than use Atora, but then, there was always a plentiful supply from the butcher's shop we owned.
    I have nothing particular to add to the use of lard that hasn't already been said. There is a pack in our fridge awaiting tomorrow's roast, and it makes the most excellent and short pastry.
    The only things of interest will be the fact that in a building outside our shop there was a copper used to render off-cuts of fat into dripping that sat in waxed containers on a shelf behind the counter and went like hot cakes. I doubt this would be allowed these days.
    The second anecdote is the look on the face of my first wife when I served her the jelly from the bottom of the turkey dripping shortly after Christmas on toast for breakfast. For some reason she was expecting marmelade and thought I was trying to poison her instead. She talks about it to this day. I thought I was doing her a special treat and couldn't get my head round just what it was she disliked as I subsequently ate it myself.
     
  19. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    That is sublime!
    I'd posh it up, cut it into little squares and serve it as a canape it is soooooo good!
     
  20. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    Cook's perk, I think! I do this with all manner of joints - it's very often my Monday morning breakfast...or Sunday night snack depending on the amount of patience I have!
     

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