Strawberry rhubarb pie. Leaf lard crust. Divine.

Strawberry rhubarb pie with leaf lard crust

Strawberry rhubarb pie with leaf lard crustThis post is totally not chocolate-related, but it’s officially summer (even the sun knows it, finally!) and the farmers market is full of goodies. Like strawberries and rhubarb. And pig fat.

I’ve spoken with the lovely Kate McDermott before about her wondrous pies. Kate makes The World’s Best Pie, as I discovered last summer. She swears by leaf lard, and I’ve been altogether too lazy to track down a source of it in Vancouver.

Leaf lard is the fat from around a pig’s kidneys, and is highly prized for its clean flavour and magically flaky pie properties. I finally found a source for it in Vancouver, and bought mine from Gelderman Farms at the Main Street farmers market. Give them a call or drop them an email, let them know how much you want, and they’ll have it for you at their next market date.

I bought three pounds of frozen leaf lard from them and rendered half of it in my crockpot. I used Cheeseslave’s handy how-to, and it worked like a charm. However, whereas most instructions call for the rendered lard to be strained into mason jars, I poured mine into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Once it solidified (overnight, in the fridge) it lifted out of the loaf pan easily. I now have a brick of white fat hanging out in the back of my fridge, wrapped in parchment and stored in a ziptop bag.

Word to the wise: while most instructions say that rendering fat produces a rather, erm, distinctive smell, I don’t think it’s unpleasant. However, it definitely smelled porky in my apartment for about six hours. I happened to be making peanut butter ice cream at the same time, and it got me thinking about peanut butter and bacon sandwiches…but that’s another post for another time.

Of course, all the fun of leaf lard is in making pie with it. I’ve worked with store-bought lard before and just find it off-putting. It’s strange-tasting, greasy and slick—and while it does produce a pretty flaky crust, there’s something missing.Strawberry rhubarb pie with leaf lard crust

So I made pie. And it is the best pie that I’ve made so far. I went a bit overboard with the sugar for the filling, but I’m so distracted at the exquisite flakiness of the crust, the crisp sound that it makes when you plunge your fork into it, and the delicate, buttery sweetness of it that I don’t even care about the filling.

Now that, my friends, is good pie. And I’m wholly convinced about the leaf lard thing.

Published by: Eagranie

7 years as a chemist + 9 months of culinary school + 2 years as a pastry chef & chocolatier + a lifetime of writing = this blog. This blog won't always be about chocolate, but it will almost certainly be about food. The name of the blog is a triple play on words. 1. It's a nod to my training as a classical pianist. Among other fantastic accomplishments, J.S. Bach combined technical prowess with artistic inspiration and penned the 24 preludes & fugues that make up The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II. 2. In order to behave properly, chocolate needs to be tempered. In a nutshell, tempering prompts the chocolate to assume its most stable crystalline form (beta prime, if you're interested) so that it is shiny, snappy, and as stable as it can be. 3. Depending on my mood and how we meet, you might agree that I'm well-tempered. Or not.

Categories 2010, Food scienceTags, , , , , , , 11 Comments

11 thoughts on “Strawberry rhubarb pie. Leaf lard crust. Divine.”

  1. Wow – first, it looks so flaky and delicious … like, seriously good!

    Secondly, I’ve never heard of leaf lard and am so intrigued (and impressed) that you rendered it. My mother always rendered fat from the animals we butchered each year but there was never any focus on the kidney fat. I know that when I tell her, she will be intrigued about it too 😉

    Look forward to seeing you soon!!!

  2. I’m quite proud of the fact that I rendered my own lard. Feeling like quite the domestic goddess now. 🙂 Can’t wait to see you!

  3. OMG Eagranie- this is amazing! I can’t help but selfishly wish that you were in Ottawa still so I could sample your pies. Thanks for the info on rendered lard; I made some Spanish pastries last winter calling for some but had to settle for butter instead. Since then I’ve taken to using bacon fat from time to time.

  4. Oh lovely another carnivorous pie, just say to the pies made with pig fat! Yuck. If you have any environmental consciousness stop eating animals—

  5. Thanks, Kara! So good to hear from you. I have a jar of bacon fat in my fridge. It makes for good scrambled eggs and is a sneaky addition to clam chowder.

    Degan: Too many words and too little space. We need to have a pie date!

    Priscilla: Well, given that the pie doesn’t have teeth, it isn’t actually carnivorous. 🙂 Also, the leaf lard was produced from a local farm who treats its animals well—and general consensus is that animals are a critical part of a healthy food system. They produce fertilizer and eat any remaining plant matter, so it’s a happy cycle of nutrients. I’ll continue to use lard and butter. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Don’t fool yourself about your healthy treatment of animals, that’s like saying we love animals so we kill them! Educate yourself of the amount of grain your are depriving starving people in the world when you eat meat or render lard for a flaky crust. It’s like saying screw you hungry poor people, I need your grain so I can have a sweet treat.

    World change begins at home and your consumption in the first world has a ripple into the wider planet. But perhaps you can’t see that far from your own needs or haven’t seen a hungry child or elderly person. Yes it does matter.

  7. Hey there,
    First off, don’t let people like Priscilla put you off of experimenting with ingredients like leaf lard. You know what Churchill said about fanatics.

    This is just a note of thanks to you for posting about your culinary “adventures.” I just bought a 10lb portion of leaf lard from one of our local Farmers Markets here today, and I’m very much looking forward to working with it.

    Cheers,
    Brad

  8. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for stopping by, and glad to hear that this post was useful. Last summer seems like ages ago, but I still have rendered leaf lard and frozen fruit, so maybe I can recreate it in a pie.

    Let me know how your leaf lard adventures go!

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