In last year’s quest to perfect biscuits, I discovered how baking with lard was key to not just them, but flaky pie crusts. Lard is rendered pork fat and in order to get the best, unadulterated lard, you need to obtain your own pig fat. Thanks to friends who raise pigs, I was able to obtain a 3+ pound frozen hunk of fat.
Those brown streaks? That’s what becomes the “cracklings”. I let the fat sit in the crock pot most of the weekend, alternating between the ‘warm’ and the ‘low’ setting, in between all our weekend activities. My resulting lard is not quite as white as it’s supposed to be, probably because it got too hot at one point. Leni assured me it was still good to use. Phew. Lesson learned, next time I render lard I will not attempt to do it between working, impromptu fun with friends I run into at the market and as well as on the way home from market, soccer games, watching Auburn football (Holy shit, was that a game or WHAT?) that had us standing the last 5 minute of play and parties. Rendering fat needs to have constant temperature and attention paid to it. I also should defrost it a bit more next time – not pulling it out of the freezer, chopping it and plopping it in the crock pot while still frozen solid. You live, you learn.
I’d heard that the aroma pork fat gives off while being rendered has a distinct smell. After two days of slowing simmering, the house definitely had the aroma of pork rinds, which not everyone appreciated. Thankfully, it was warm enough Sunday to open doors and windows and get some fresh air in. I yielded three and a half pint jars of lard as well as just over a pint of cracklings, which I plan on taking to Oysterfest next weekend (I can hardly believe it’s next weekend already!) and cooking up for the gang.
Last spring, my friend Leni turned me onto rice bread – the recipe she used was from “Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking” by John Martin Taylor. She served it at her husband Kip’s 75th Birthday Party and was kind enough to send us home with a loaf, telling us, “It makes even better toast”. She wasn’t kidding either. Eaten warm, fresh out of the oven, this bread is delightful – nice crust, soft interior with just a wee bit of a crunch and texture from the rice. As I only have two loaf pans, I cut the recipe in half when I make it, yielding two loaves. Having made it once successfully following the recipe, I decided it was time to play with it.
By using a wild rice mix from the bulk section at Integral Yoga. I also used some spelt flour in addition to the bread flour.
The wild rice did not break down like the white rice, leaving a bit more crunch to the finished product. It’s still pretty darn good toast, especially when covered with my cherry berry jam. This has been a welcome addition to my bread repertoire, as it pairs better with jams than say, sourdough. It’s a fairly easy bread to make, but it does require some time and the baking part is tricky as it tries to replicate the falling temps on an wood burning oven. However, as long as you set your time and pay attention to what you’re doing, it should be fine. I highly recommend trying it.