Creme de la creme refers to best of the best. So why not the “fattest of the fat”, at least for the realm of pork lard? :) But first, let me point out that FULLY 70% of readers who responded to my poll on butter vs. lard were WRONG. Butter is NOT more healthy than natural homemade lard. :) I love it when conventional wisdom or perception is dead wrong. Now you have some randomly ridiculous bit of trivia to throw into a dinner or lunch conversation when someone says pork fat is evil. Hahaha. Use that tidbit well, it will make you seem more erudite. If you have to look up erudite, then the tidbit will be even more useful. :)
Your body does NEED fat as part of its daily diet. Of course “overdoing it” regardless of source of fat is bad. Just like eating too much sugar is bad. Too much salt is bad. Too many carbohydrates is bad. Too many beans are bad. However, surprisingly, pork fat and lard has perhaps borne the brunt of the bad rap on fat, even more so than butter. For a while, butter was equally demonized and margarine was the supposed “Fat King”. I never bought into that line of logic at all. And neither did our parents… margarine was NOT part of the grocery list growing up. And now it turns out that margarine, along with other heat treated and processed or hydrogenated fats, are possibly the evilest of the evil fats. Think you’re doing yourself a favor by using purico or crisco or vegetable shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oils? After the newest research on the evils of hydrogenation, start to think again.
It was perhaps simply coincidence that I have recently been experimenting with rendering our own lard, and by chance, rendering tampalen, the source of all that glorious lard in the photos above. I quote from Jennifer McLagan’s book on “Fat” when she writes: “Also called flead or flare fat, leaf lard (tampalen) is the fat from around the pig’s kidneys. Ideal for making pastry because of its brittle crystalline structure, this is the creme de la creme of pork fat.” Fatback is the other more common source of lard.
So the obvious question has to be, how bad or good is homemade lard? In this article that appeared in Food & Wine and entitled “Lard: The New Health Food?”, the author explores the positives of lard in comparison to other fats and has some interesting points. Another article in the The New York Times, entitled “High on the Hog” supports many of the same positive points of lard, and compares its properties with butter, vegetable shortening, etc. Both conclude that good homemade lard isn’t so bad after all. In fact, it is probably better than butter and certainly better than any trans fat of any source… Amazing. But the best part is, it tastes so darned good. Or it makes such brilliant pastries and pie crusts. Or it fries up things to a wonderful light crispiness. Praise the Lard indeed. :)
If you want to appear even more “lard-washed”, consider this quote from Penelope Casas’ book Delicioso, where she says that lard “(has) many of the healthful qualities of olive oil, it is much lower in saturated fats than butter or beef fats and has the acids that seem to… reduce cholesterol levels”. This last quote I read in Leanne Kitchen’s book entitled “The Butcher”. So give me the numbers, you say (data from the book “Fat” by Jennifer McLagan:
Butter : 50% Saturated Fat, 30% Monounsaturated Fat, 4% Polyunsaturated Fat
Beef Tallow: 50% Saturated Fat, 42% Monounsaturated Fat, 4% Polyunsaturated Fat
Lamb Tallow: 47% Saturated Fat, 40% Monounsaturated Fat, 9% Polyunsaturated Fat
Pork Lard : 39% Saturated Fat, 45% Monounsaturated Fat, 11% Polyunsaturated Fat
Duck Fat: 33% Saturated Fat, 50% Monounsaturated Fat, 13% Polyunsaturated Fat
Goose Fat 28% Saturated Fat, 57% Monounsaturated Fat, 11% Polyunsaturated Fat
One of the best all-natural and untreated or unheated oils is probably olive oil, and here is it’s profile, according to Wikipedia:
Olive Oil: 14% Saturated Fat, 73% Unsaturated Fat, 11% Polyunsaturated Fat
Note, goose fat is looking pretty darned good as well. And it makes wonderful french fries… :)
But IF you are eating ANY FAT that is heat-treated or hydrogenated, from what I understand, these contain the terribly evil trans fats, which are considered now to be worse than almost any type of natural animal fat. So the bottom line is, pork lard isn’t as bad as it seems. And it is BETTER for you than BUTTER, numbers wise. Of course, there is the issue of TASTE. I still wouldn’t slather lard on my toast and top with marmalade, but I would definitely reach for a stunning sweet butter from say France or the Scandinavian countries for that purpose. So each has its uses, but numbers wise, LARD outshines BUTTER. :)
The Teen is on school holiday at the moment, so she had yet another indulgent breakfast (trust me, she doesn’t do this too often) this morning that nicely closes off this post. A slice of apple pie with a la crust made with lard (SUPERB!, more on this soon), a leftover kamote doughnut deep-fried in lard, and a square of moist brownie, best made with superb butter. :)