I ran across this pic on Jorge Garcia from Lost's blog. (Yes, I'm one of those nerds, but that's not what we're discussing here.) It got me thinking about lard. I have this to say about it- don't knock it til' you try it. If you pan or deep fry things, it's amazing. Nothing crisps like lard. It's also fantastic as a substitute for butter or shortening in savory pie crusts (like for pot pies or quiches), or biscuits, or in any kind of cheese pastry. It gives a really great hearty flavor.
It's also better for you than many of its vegetable counterparts. Lard has NO trans fats. Yep, none. It's high in healthy monounsaturated fat. It's also not some kind of greasy chemical Frankenstein like vegetable shortening. It's natural and easily produced in your own kitchen from items you can purchase from your local butcher, if you want to. Conveniently, it also comes pre-made.
I will admit that it's not as versatile a flavor as, say, butter. However, when it's used right, it is absolutely divine. I'd rather have fried foods made in lard than any "healthier" option any day.
Need an idea of something easy to make with lard? Here's one of our favorites:
Sweet Potato Fries
4-6 fresh sweet potatoes, peeled
3/4 c. flour
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs lard
1. Heat lard in deep fryer or large pan to 360 degrees.
2. While lard is heating, cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips, or whatever fry shape you want.
3. Whisk together remaining dry ingredients. Add the water gradually, until it makes a thin batter (you may need more or less).
4. Dip sweet potato pieces in batter a few at a time, and add them to the hot lard. Cook until golden brown. Be careful not to put too many fries in at once, as they will stick together. Drain fries on paper towels, and enjoy!