Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fat & Milk: Food processing

I rendered an 8-pound behemoth of lard on Friday, a peaceful & pleasant all-day process that yielded more than a gallon of liquid pig fat the color of butterscotch. Immensely satisfying, pouring all that lard into little white tubs, labeling and sticking in the freezer. I've rendered lard before, but never this much, and never such expensive (ergo good? I hope? please?) lard. 

What to do with all that pedigreed fat I've no idea, but will figure out. Meanwhile, I put aside a tiny bit to make the lovely, fragile lard pastry from Jennifer McLagan's Fat, which I used for the buttermilk pie out of Anne Mendelson's Milk. The whole thing (see above) was delectable and handsome and, for once, handsomely photographed.

This morning: bagels and cream cheese.

Made the bagels, made the cream cheese. The chewy bagels are baked from the outstanding recipe in Bernard Clayton's Book of Breads. This is the second batch of the week, and I've never made anything more popular with finical children and spouse. I'm not Jewish, I'm not from New York City, and the perfect bagel is not my Lost Chord (that would be the Maddox spoon roll) so I don't claim authority. But I have eaten thousands of bagels over the years, and never encountered any as good as these. More about bagel-making in a future post.

The cream cheese, concocted from Milk, was not so fabulous. You warm up milk, cream, and a little buttermilk, add a crushed rennet tablet (as in Junket) and let sit in a quiet corner for a day where it will ripen into something with the texture of sour cream. You pour this into a cheesecloth-lined sieve, tie the cloth up around the ball of semisolid dairy product, hang it over the sieve to drain for a few hours, then top with weights or heavy cans to press out the remaining whey (which you can use to make incredible bread. . . or bagels.) Sounds complicated, isn't. The resulting "cream cheese" is loose and tart, more suited to topping a baked potato than a bagel. I might try again making some slight alterations. Or not. 


  1. Would you post an instructional essay about how to render lard? Pretty please?

    And I had given bagels up as a worthwhile home endeavor--was I wrong? Is this recipe worth my time, and how long does it take?

  2. Yes, I will do both. And both are easy. The bagels are incredible especially, of course, made with whey. Though how would I know? I've never made them with water.

  3. I love the drift toward basic foods made from scratch. We tend to forget where what we eat comes from and how it got to be what it is. Great for the kids to learn---and happy to hear that they are responding to the resulting goodies! Far better than pigs ears! They deserve the break!

  4. having now sampled these homemade bagels, i now NEED the recipe. take it from a pregnant morning sick lady when she says such a thing. can you post, or if i should buy a book, which book?

  5. Random that I am leaving this months later, but I saved this post & made the Jo Goldenberg recipe. I am not a bread baker, and they turned out terrible! My biggest deviation from the recipe was that after shaping them, I let them sit in the fridge overnight to bake the next day. Some recipes call for this, but this one did not. Wondering if you've ever made the dough the day previous so you don't have to do it the morning of.