If ever there was an old-school comestible with a fat chance at trendiness, lard would seem to be it. The name alone is enough to conjure up a frisson of dismay. Nonetheless, lard appears poised to make a comeback.
Chefs have been championing lard for some time, some home cooks never gave it up, and quality versions are available from artisan producers. And the people at Grit magazine (www.grit.com) have written “Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient.”
Grit focuses on American rural life. Editors were looking for a way to use their huge recipe database. The result: 150 recipes from more than 100 years of the magazine, including biscuits, fried chicken, pie crust and flour tortillas.
For San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino, known for his nose-to-tail cooking, lard is a natural byproduct of his whole-animal approach, trying to use all of the animal.
Neither Cosentino nor Grit advocates eating huge amounts of lard. But it has less saturated fat than butter and is unequaled for flaky pastry.
Not all lard is created equal, says Grit, which recommends reading the package to make sure you’re getting lard that hasn’t been heavily processed.