Snow White Lard and Rich Pork Stock

Snow Day Adventure

by Martha Stone of Martha’s at Benny’s Plaza, Rte 3A, North Plymouth.

The night before the last snow storm I went to peruse my chest freezer in the basement knowing that I have plenty of treasures stored there. I had thoughts crossing my mind that I may not open my drive up lunch shop on Wednesday during the forecasted blizzard. I normally do not take this approach but last snow storm I spent several hours at the shop with few guests to serve and so this time I determined to make better use of my time that might reflect more edible benefits for future meals: lard and stock.

Out from the freezer I pulled the leaf lard to render for baking. I pulled out the fat back to render for other cooking methods. I also pulled out pork parts I had been acquiring over the months for a rich, nutritious stock: a head, a tail, a package of necks and some feet. Processing fat and making stock from odd cuts takes some time. The added benefits include filling your home with nice moist steam heat from the simmering stock, which makes the home feel warmer (even if the temperature really isn’t any higher), and the aroma of rich pork permeating the air.

Marthas pork broth

Both of the following recipes require a stretch of stay at home time, perhaps on the next snow day.

How to render pork fat back and leaf lard: Keep fat back and leaf lard segregated into separate pots as leaf lard is prized for its superior baking properties (think flaky pie dough!) and you don’t want to waste it in other cooking processes (like sautéing or roasting) that do not take full advantage of these benefits.

  • Cut the pork into about 1 inch sized cubes.
  • Place in the oven in a vessel that has 2 to 3 inch sides at 300 degrees for about 1 hour.
  • When the fat starts to turn liquid reduce the heat to 200 degrees or as low as your oven will go above 140 degrees for food safety purposes.
  • Once processed strain the fat into appropriate sized containers to keep for your own use or gift to special people in your life.

In a liquid form the fat has a slight amber colored cast; when it turns solid at room temperature it will be almost as white as the color of snow.

Rendering fat is a practice in patience. If you overcook it, unfortunately it is useless, throw it away. I have done this, strained the fat and held it for weeks trying to come up with a way to use it. It’s no use, once over cooked, lard is trash. The sadness of the months of raising the pig, taking it to slaughter and then wasting its invaluable fat is a lesson in consciousness. Over cooked lard cannot be saved because everything it touches will taste burnt and smoky in an unpleasant way, so please stay tuned to your simmering pots.

This rendering process takes about 6 hours which is why it is a perfect chore for a day off at home.

Making pork stock:

  • Place parts in an appropriate sized vessel to allow water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a light simmer for at least 6 to 8 hours, maybe more.
  • When you lift the parts out of the pot with tongs and everything is falling off the bones, the stock is ready.
  • Let the stock cool for a bit and then strain.

When the stock is done I like to lift the bone and parts out of the stock into another container to cool before I put them in the trash. I collect used stock parts and food waste in the freezer until trash day. You don’t want to have this stuff sitting in your basement or garage where critters may get at it.

Once the stock is chilled all the fat will solidify on the top. You may then remove it easily. Similarly to the rendering process above, I bring the skimmed fat to a low boil to cook off any liquid. I then strain it through a fine sieve and store it in the refrigerator for immediate uses like roast potatoes, to sauté vegetables for soup, or anything that would benefit from the flavor of the pork; or freeze it in a glass jar for future use. I store the stock in container sizes for use in one meal and freeze larger portions for future soup use. Just don’t forget that you have this beautiful liquid gold to work with!

Marthas finished lard

You are now prepared to make a beautiful soup or sauce with your stock. I recently made a navy bean and bacon soup using the pork broth. Delicious! The stock has a gelatinous body which is makes it good for sauces as well. You do not need to use thickeners. Just reduce the stock to a glaze with whatever components you choose for added flavor. For instance, for a roast pork loin you might add some dried cranberries, mustard and honey, then just boil it down in a large surfaced pan until it is the desired consistency. I always finish with a little unsalted butter; this adds another layer of flavor and gives the sauce a nice sheen.

Making stock and rendering lard are perfect stay at home projects; neither takes a lot of attention, however, you do not want to leave them totally unattended. Fat is very flammable and pots can boil over. Once begun there is not much maintenance required. The aroma keeps you aware that you do have something to pay attention to over the period of the day, in between shoveling shifts and the pleasures of an unanticipated day off spent at home.

*Sourcing Note: Leaf lard, fatback and odd cuts of pork and parts are readily available from various local farms including: Brown Boar Farm, Dufort Farm, and Plato’s Harvest Farm. You can contact them directly and see them all at the Plymouth Farmers’ Market.

by Martha Stone of Martha’s at Benny’s Plaza, Rte 3A, North Plymouth.

About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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2 Responses to Snow White Lard and Rich Pork Stock

  1. Anonymous says:

    Happy to contribute to your inspiration.

  2. Martha, you’ve Inspired me to make time to render my leaf lard and fat back sitting in my freezer. Winter really is the best time. It’s now officially added to my current project list.

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