The road to Mole is paved with Manteca. So is the road to good tamales. I am making both this week and those posts will follow complete with step by step instructions. This post is about rendering lard, I kid you not. In Mexican Cooking, we call it Manteca. It is a very easy process and one that rewards you with some wonderful stuff. Many things taste better with Manteca and the Spanish word just sounds a heck of a lot better than lard.
Home rendered lard is healthier for us than many of the hydrogenated vegetable fats and surprisingly has some health benefits when of course it is used in moderation. It of course is not vegetarian or vegan. It is a 100% natural fat and one third of it is composed of stearic acid, which is beneficial to cholesterol levels & circulation. Lard is also high in oleic acids and high in monounsaturated fatty acids. Lard has half the level of saturated fat of palm kernel oil or coconut oil, often touted as more healthful replacements for partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Here is an interesting article on the subject of fats in the New York Times.
So, if you are going to use Manteca, do not buy the supermarket variety... make your own! It is easy to do and will give you the best quality and healthiest kind of lard.
While our grocery stores lack a lot of things here on the big island of Hawaii, one of them is not pork fat. The pig is Godlike in this culture and not only can you find stacks of pig fat, you can find pigs feet, pig heads and almost everything between the snout and the tail. I bought four packages of beautiful white fat for $5 at KTA.
I brought it home and cut it up then slowly cooked it until the fat was rendered and we were left with some crispy cracklings or chicharrones.
Sprinkled with a little smoked sea salt and hot sauce they are harder to resist than a potato chip. Of course I suggest a little self control and moderation where chicharrones are concerned.
You can render the fat in the oven or on the stove top. Since it was a warm day, I opted for the stove top. I had to do my rendering in two batches. Each one took about 20 minutes on a low flame.
Once the fat is rendered, the chicharrones will be golden brown and crispy. Line a sieve with a coffee filter or paper towel and place it over a large pot or bowl. Pour all of the renderings and chicharrones into the colander. Allow to drip for at least 15 minutes, longer is better. Once the lard has been rendered it will be a golden oil that eventually turns white when it completely cools. You can store it in the fridge or freezer. It will keep for a few weeks in the fridge and at least a year in the freezer. You can also render goose fat, duck fat, and beef fat in much the same way.
Come on, I know you have lard envy about now...
The next post will be on making a deep velvety and complex mole colorado and then some butt kicking tamales! Tune in for more fun and food!