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Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by The Cyclops, Aug 17, 2012.
It doesn't hardly get any better than this:
Well, the deeper I get into cast iron cooking, the better I want things to turn out. It seems a lot of old CI recipes call for lard for biscuits or gravy, and we all know that real lard makes the best biscuits, crusts, etc.... so it was time I boosted my lard supplies. (lard also protects and is a good seasoning oil for CI)
Problem is, the only lard I've ever seen available at stores is hydrogenated. Part of why I got away from teflon was for health concerns (because seemingly all teflon flakes off over a while), and since I was thinking healthy then, why would I use 'bad' lard now? (current theory is that real lard is much healthier than the substitutes American's have been conned into using since WWII).
I called around for the recommended two styles of pork fat, but no one even seemed to know what 'leaf lard' or 'fatback lard' was... so I went with what was readily available. The best known store for meats, locally, that actually seems to have butchers is Penn Dutch, so I called them up two days ago to inquire about buying some lard. They suggested I call back at 8 AM the next morning, which I did to place my order. I really didn't know how much I wanted, but I knew that the last time I did this I didn't get a full mason jar out of it, and since recipes seem to call for up to 1/2 cup lard, it seemed prudent to get about four or five pounds... instead, they packaged me seven. I'm cool with that.
At least it's cheap!
Oh holy hell ... this was going to take a lifetime if that bit was any indication. That knife, which was just sharpened, was just taking too much effort.
So I tried to think up something else. Turns out I inherited a meat cleaver this year from a dear departed friend. I'm no pro cook, and I've never really had the reason to practice with, nor use, a meat cleaver... but necessity is the mother of invention, so...
Initially it was only a little bit better. But then I learned to chop harder, then pull it back for the final slice... MUCH better! But I don't think modern box-store-made counter-tops are made for real chopping in the long term. (Have no doubt about it... this meat cleaver has some serious heft to it) My theory is that over the course of, like, a few years of this level of hammering that the parts from the cabinets would start getting too loose and falling apart. Duly noted if I ever build my own kitchen...
Once I got going I started separating the meatier portions to cook up on the side as a treat. That's what's in the bowl. (Hours later, by the end of so many pieces chopped and skillets rendered I just stopped separating them, lol.)
I used a concave paper towel with a lid holding it in place to strain.
Side project, and a pic of what I've been saying I do for a poor-man's dutch oven - one upside down on the other:
I messed up with the final folding of it (I forgot to do it), so it didn't seem to rise as well as other loaves I've made recently. I'll have to wait for it to cool to see if the insides are still OK.
Cracklins drying. I ended up with... shit tons of cracklins. One of the comments on the video below, made by a guy named RonRay, was:
Mix those cracklins with 1 cup sr flour, 1 cup sr meal, 2 eggs, 2 cups whole buttermilk, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tbsp of that lard; poured into a large (hot) cast iron skillet, placed into﻿ a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes and you've got one of the greatest joys made for the human mouth!
Seems like I need to head back to the store for what I assume is self-rising flour and self-rising corn meal?
I really don't even know if those cracklins are 'done' enough to be real crackins, or if I should cook them further to get them real crispy.
So like the video (I will hopefully remember to embed) warned, I think I rendered some batches too long and got the darker, meatier renderings which turned the first one more yellow than the second one might end up if I'm more careful.
After cooling the first jar in the fridge, we have relatively white lard to use in future recipes:
Two things to take a gander at for rendering lard:
http://www.spain-in-iowa.com/2011/02/how-render-lard-the-right-way-snow-white/ - which is a great write up of what to buy and how to do it.
But, then, I also like the people over at Permies.com (a permaculture community with some good ideas and videos):
<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/cveJczI65Ao?feature=player_detailpage" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" width="640"></iframe>
Well, this is gonna break your heart but,....we have a little Polish deli sausage shop in the neighborhood, about a block 'n half stroll, and they give their rendered lard away for free.
Pre-packaged in 250gm tubs.
I grab one every once and a while when I want to make up some pie crust or for making pan fried potatoes. A little olive oil, a little lard, and it fries up nicely.
This, and about 100 cubic yards of smoke, came out of my CI skillet and oven the other day.
Turned out absolutely fabulous. Best steak I've had in years.
You can also do it right on the stove top over the flame- right side up and upside down.
MamboDave's post (#59 on page 4) is the same method Cooks Illustrated determined was the best one. I was scouring my old magazines looking for it, gotta retreat my Dutch oven and 10" pan. The method works very well, though it does take about six cycles to get a good cure.
I'm looking for a larger dutch oven. Found this, but I don't know anything about this brand and 20 qt may be too big anyway.
Any suggestions or input would be appreciated.
Do you know how to wash lard?
I used to do this, not so much lately, but when I was using it more - set it in a saucepan of boiling water, and let the fat melt and boil with the water for a while. Once it's been going at it for 5-10 minutes, you can take the pan and set it aside for a moment, then put it in the fridge on a hot pad, and the now-clean lard will rise and solidify, while everything else falls into the water and stays below. Crack it out with a knife once it's hard, and put into a new container, which can be re-melted briefly to get it all in one solid lump, and you have nice clean lard to work with.
This also works if it's going rancid - a boiling treatment will often enough remove the stuff you don't want, kill the bacteria, and let you preserve the fat again. Old homesteader trick.
That's pretty cool - thank you!
I may never have to use it to wash it since it seems quite clean after straining through the paper towel (or... clean enough for my tastes... if I become a master pastry chef I may alter my ways though), but the turning it if it goes rancid part is pretty interesting. Say... how would I know if it went rancid? My filtered bacon drippings get saved in a jar that never goes in my fridge, and I add to it and use parts from it all of the time... and it never seems to have gone rancid - that, or I don't know any better
Let me ask you this, though - are you saying it would clean up the yellow-ish liquid lard to be even cleaner, or is mine already sorta clean? I'm taking it that you attached the picture since it may be 'dirty'?
I don't know the brand, but that lid is perfect for putting coals or charcoal briquettes on, so I'd strongly consider it since that's the style of Dutch Oven the outdoor/cowboy cooks I've been reading up on, and watching videos, are using. 20 does sound huge though. That same site has smaller ones. Guess it depends on the family and friends you have to cook for.
That is a neat site ( http://www.bayouclassicdepot.com/cast_iron_cookware.htm ) - I may order my next CI from there instead of bidding for an antique on ebay next time. Thanks.
If you aren't using one of these to clean your nicely seasoned cast iron, you are a crazy person. Best.
Bamboo wok cleaner
That is pretty cool, and I may eventually pick up one - but I still like the tip that the NY fireman added to the thread about just using some salt and a towel (I use a paper towel) as an abrasive. It works, and I don't believe it hurts the seasoning. My thinking is that salt (if not sand or small river gravel) is probably exactly what the pioneers, cowboys, and other old timers used to use since so many other things weren't available to clean with. I'm pretty darned sure they didn't have bamboo, either, but I may pick one up eventually. Thanks.
I've recently ventured off into cooking things I original thought would rust or just not work well in the cast iron, like breakfast oatmeal, and of course that chicken-fried-steak-gravy from that video. Everything comes out great.
Just got two pans in the mail and broke 'em in with some bacon. It's going to rain all weekend here so I plan to do some cooking.
On my list:
chicken fried steak
sausage in pan in oven
Any other ideas?
No pics, but I was camping with my Scouts last night, and while they struggled with foil dinners in the coals, I broke out the dutch oven and sliced up a pork loin, some chopped potatoes, onion and carrots, seasoned with pork rub, adobo, salt and pepper, and a stick of butter.
Oh my gawd that was tasty.
Bacon and eggs and toast for breakfast this morning was good too.
No Knead Bread
Sounds really good. Tell me that wasn't an entire stick of butter, lol.
Do the scouts get some type of badge for foil cooking?
That was an entire stick of butter. In fairness, I shared with a couple people. Perhaps it only took one year off my life instead of 3.
Foil dinners are just tradition, something to make the scout think about feeding himself and doing something to get fed (fire, then cook) and learn a little about how it all works. Our boys are too city-fied for my taste, so this is roughing it for most of them. A select few have been through my hard-core high adventure trips, and know better, but it's getting time to do that again. Yesterday was just car camping.
Hey man, I envy the position you're in. I didn't have children, but had I - reliving and teaching the new stuff I've learned would be great.
Can you believe that Boy Scouts in Florida aren't ever taught how to wrassle a gator?!
But, seriously, some of the tips for the simplified care, and use, of a cast iron skillet might well be included in there.
Oh, they were all watching. And watching me eat my most excellent smoked Tennessee bacon. I shared a piece out to the older ones who might appreciate it, and they all saw how simple the use of the tool was, along with its versatility.
Great idea on the lard production but, I don't think I would use a paper towel for straining, maybe some trace chemicals from production present that were not designed to be ingested. A coffee filter on the other hand was designed for straining.