It only took 689 miles and three hand-offs, but my lard has finally arrived. I am just so happy.
And I think I can now reveal the origin of my lard since it was purchased in the same state it was produced in and then transported across state lines. How would the seller know what was to become of his lard once it was removed from the premises?
The lard’s journey actually began in Orange Park, Florida, with my BBQ buddy Clif Welch, who will pretty much travel any distance for something good to eat. He was in search of pork belly, I believe, and Kevin Ouzts of The Spotted Trotter in Atlanta had some with Clif’s name on it. And Kevin had my lard. So Clif stops in Atlanta, picks up his pork belly and my lard and heads to the Jack Daniels Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
My lard is then handed over to John and Kathy Swift of Wild Bunch Butt Burners, who agreed to stash it a few days until the contest is over. At the end of the contest, John and Kathy transfer the lard to Rosemary and Charlie Burdeshaw, a couple of pals of mine who are fellow BBQ judges and who live in Nashville. BBQ is such a small world and, you know, I’m so happy that’s the case right now.
This morning, I pick up the lard and a few other goodies Kevin stashed in the bag from Rosemary. And, bless her heart, she never once questions why I would go to such lengths to get my hands on lard. She just cheerfully hands it over.
So Clif just sent me this e-mail:
Question: What are you going to use the lard for? I got two blocks. Didn’t that used to go in corn bread and biscuits before Crisco and, later, cooking oil? How about a blog post on cooking with lard?
OK, Clif, here you go. First of all, back in the day lard was used to fry everything. It was also used to make pie crusts and biscuits and it was melted in the bottom of a cast iron skillet so that when you poured in the cornbread batter it would pop and sizzle. That created a sublime crust when the cornbread baked.
Lard lost favor when people became more health conscious and started using vegetable oil. But what is it I keep telling you people? Fat equals flavor? And isn’t it worth it to go for the gusto every once in awhile and vote in favor of flavor? Yes, it is.
So here is how I am going to use the lard. First of all, I am going to fry some chicken in it. Fried chicken, in my opinion, is the highest and best use of lard. I am also going to make French fries, using the double fry method. Here’s the recipe from Food Network I am going to use, except substituting lard for the peanut oil, of course. Then I am going to make a pie crust, since I got three blocks of lard and you, Clif, only got two. Ha!
And I am also going to try an experiment. I have always been wary of the lard you can buy in supermarkets because I’ve heard it easily goes rancid. But I am going to buy some and do a side-by-side comparison, probably with the French fries because potatoes are cheap and so am I.
My Southern food muse and friend, Terrell, told me repeatedly (because I asked repeatedly) that the supermarket lard was fine. I didn’t get a chance to do this experiment before he died because I didn’t meet Kevin Ouzts until right before Terrell died. But you know what? I am quite sure that if Terrell turns out to be right about this I will most definitely hear “told you so” loud and clear.