Leite’s Loves…Leaf Lard

Flying Pigs' Leaf Lard

Lard was a really large part of my lexicon as a child. I still recall running errands as a 4-year-old with my grandmother and as we left the local butcher shop, she’d grab me with one hand, a two-gallon plastic bucket of lard with the other. Grandma embraced a rather reckless use of pork fat, and she wasn’t afraid to flaunt this fact. (Pig tends to have that effect on people from Iowa.)

It seems to have a similar effect on people from the Berkshires, or at least the good folks at the much-ballyhooed Flying Pigs Farm. What’s old is new again there. Rare heritage breeds of pigs lead the cushy lives pigs were intended, snorting and grunting around fields and woods. And when it comes time to, well, you-know-what the pigs, lard is an inevitable and enviable byproduct. My grandmother probably paid less for her entire two-gallon bucket than I pay for a single 8-ounce tub. But there’s lard, and then there’s lard. The lard of my childhood got the job done. But Flying Pigs Farm lard makes me go weak in the knees. It’s pristine, impossibly perfect leaf lard, rendered from the plump area surrounding the kidneys, that lends pie crusts an uncanny flakiness and the merest suggestion of smokiness. Thanks to Michael Yezzi and Jennifer Small, owners of Flying Pigs Farm, lard is still a large part of my lexicon.

Flying Pigs Farm’s rendered leaf lard is available for $6.25 per 8-ounce tub at Union Square Greenmarket (Manhattan, Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn (Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.). It’s best to arrive early if you expect to snag a tub. It’s also available by mail-order all hours of the day and night from its website. (Sorry out-of-state residents, their rendered leaf lard is sold only New York; you can still acquire pig fat from them, but you’ll have to render the lard yourself via their easy-to-follow instructions. Should you not have the time or the inclination to roll out your own pie crust, Flying Pigs can furnish you with their own made-from-scratch version. At about $10 for a double pie crust, it’s a bargain, though not by my grandma’s standards.)

I tend to reserve my precious and pricey leaf lard for pie crusts, but if I had a two-gallon bucket of it to get through, here’s what I’d be fixing to make:

Ham and Potatoes Sarladaise
Confit of Pork Belly
Lard and Butter Pie Crust
.

Comments
Comments
  1. RisaG says:

    I wonder if I can contact them, knowing I am going to the Union Square market and they can reserve one for me? I am going to try that next time I know I am going into Manhattan. We are going to come in sometime in November, for our anniversary and then again some time around my birthday in December. I would love to get my hands on some. I render my own pork fat these days. Love lard. I had the Lard Pizza at Otto last year and it was OOTW! Porky deliciousness. Have you had it yet David?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      It doesn’t hurt to call and inquire, RisaG! I’d encourage you to drop mention of the fact that you’ll be in from out of town…

      Of course, if you don’t want to wait (or fuss with handling the lard on your way home), Flying Pigs does ship…

      • RisaG says:

        Good to know. I try and make it into Manhattan a few times a year. Always hit the Union Square Greenmarket. I got Ricks Picks corn relish last time and some wonderful Freekah and the most beautiful multiple colored carrots and radishes.

  2. Years ago, when I lived in a small cabin in the Catskills, I sometimes helped local farmers slaughter pigs. They paid me in pork—and pork fat, which was rendered slowly atop the woodstove. The savory aroma was heavenly, and the fresh cracklings (little bits of connective tissue, fried to ambrosial crispness) provided a treat that cannot be had any other way.

    Old timers liked to say that they used every part of the pig but the squeal, and one of them kept a curly pig’s tail hanging on a nail at the back of his stove. Pigs have a firm lump of fat at the base of their tails, and that farmer used the tail to brush just the right amount of fat to his old black skillet.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Gary, thanks as always for sharing. I love the pig tail. And your mention of fresh cracklings reminds me that during spring (and, I suspect, a few other non-humid moments during the year) Flying Pigs brings fresh cracklings to the market. It’s an experience that defies words but that must be sought out early in the morning before word gets out…

  3. Jeanne says:

    It must be that time of year. Just asked a friend to share the secret to her gorgeous and delicious pie crust. “No secret,” she says. “Just lard.”

    And today I had leftover kalua pig (Hawaiian-style pulled pork) crisped in a skillet and topped w/ a poached egg for brunch. Couldn’t help but squeal happily upon tasting. Now I’m wondering about Lard Pizza, mentioned by RisaG. I want.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Just lard. As if it’s “just” lard. I envy you that crisped pork and poached egg, Jeanne.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail