As you can probably imagine, after I rendered my leaf lard I didn’t wait too long to turn it into a pie – I was too excited!
Using my usual pie crust recipe, I decided to go with a half butter, half lard ratio. That way, in theory, I would have the best of both worlds – tasty butter and flake-inducing lard.
I’d been keeping it in the freezer, but as you can see it remained fairly soft, more scoopable than cuttable. The smell of it was pleasantly nutty rather than porky, which I took as a good sign for my pastry dreams.
When I got to the stage of the crust recipe where I had to mush everything together, I was pleased to note that it was a good deal easier than when all of the fat is butter:
Usually I have a hard time getting it all to ball together, but this time was a snap! So far, so good. I tossed it into the refrigerator to firm up and went about my day.
Eventually the time came to create the pie. In a happy coincidence, Mr. Menace and I were going that night to the house of our friends Elise and the Goog for dinner – I felt reasonably certain that as fellow adventurous eaters they would be willing to eat a pie that contained pig fat (I don’t believe in feeding people things they’re unaware of, as it can be dangerous!) and it is my motto to always bring something when you are invited to someone’s house. I went with a simple apple because clearly it is the king of pies.
Note how puffy the crust got – that’s a good thing! It’s all of the pastry flakes that cause that. It also browned more evenly and deeply – without burning – than my typical pie. Here’s my normal crust for comparison:
See how much less richly brown it is? Mind you, that was still a pretty tasty pie, but so far, the lard crust has it all over the butter one.
Perhaps the others will weigh in with their verdicts in the comments, but this was everything I hoped it would be – tender, flaky, with that slight nuttiness carrying through, and moist without being greasy. Rendering the lard is a bit time-consuming, but it’s not difficult, and I got enough for two pies out of the process. Leaf lard – my new secret weapon in the quest for the perfect crust!