Praise the Lard! A Maligned Fat Makes a Resurgence

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Lard was once the most common fat for baking, but came to be seen as dirty and unhealthful. Now, food scientists have shown that home-rendered lard isn't as bad for your health as, say, margarine. And it tastes wonderful! Our guest, discussing the benefits of lard, is food writer Regina Schrambling. Also on the show is chef Zarela Martinez, a self-proclaimed lard crusader. She has been preaching the gospel of lard for over fifteen years and is glad that people are finally listening.

For pie crust and chocolate cupcake recipes, click here. Those recipes come from Southern cooks (and lard fans) Matt and Ted Lee.

Watch Zarela Martinez demonstrate how easy it is to render lard at home:

Enjoy these two lard-friendly recipes, courtesy of The Lee Brothers.

PIE CRUST WITH LARD

Time: 1 hour

  • 11 tablespoons cold lard
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Milk, if necessary.
  1. In a large bowl, work lard and butter into flour and salt with a fork or pastry blender until evenly distributed. Roll out on a floured surface, then scrape into a ball and roll out again. Return dough to bowl, and place in freezer to chill for 10 minutes.
  2. Blend sour cream into dough to moisten, then roll out once more. If dough needs more moisture to hold it together, add a few tablespoons of milk. Work dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Divide the dough in two, then roll out again. Press one crust into a lightly greased pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. (A second crust can top a double-crust pie, or be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for up to several months.)

Yield: Two 9-inch single crusts.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH VANILLA ICING

Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons lard
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled 10 minutes
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the icing:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks. In a large bowl, cream lard with sugar. Add yolks, beating until smooth. Stir in chocolate. In a small bowl, beat egg white until frothy; fold into batter.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to batter, and beat gently while pouring in half the milk and the vanilla. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients, then remaining milk.
  3. Pour batter into a muffin pan with foil cupcake liners. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for five minutes. Move to a cooling rack; when cupcakes are completely cool, they can be iced.
  4. Make icing: In a bowl, beat all ingredients until creamy. For stiffer consistency, beat in more confectioners' sugar. Spread over cupcakes.

Yield: 6 cupcakes.