Over lunch in Annapolis a few weeks ago, Jenny Stanley said, “If you want to make a great apple pie, use leaf lard.”
Leaf lard = “fat lining the abdomen and kidneys in hogs which is used to make lard [syn: leaf fat]“
So the Thursday before Christmas and the road trip up to Lake Tahoe to see the Lehoullier and Phillips clans with the promise of an apple pie, I stopped at the Ferry Terminal at the foot of Market Street on my way to the Larkspur Ferry to see if I could track down some of this porcine ambrosia. Chowhound had a discussion thread on where to find leaf lard in the Bay Area that pointed me to the Prather Ranch store first, but they were out (and quel horror!, the sales dude said, hey, you can use any ole lard for your apple pie, it’ll be just fine. No way! It’s leaf lard or nothing!)
So I headed down to the other end of the Terminal, to Golden Gate Meats and found it: leaf lard in a bag:
Plenty of time to get on the ferry. . .
. . . and over to Larkspur as the sun set.
The next morning, the work began. First, I cut the leaf lard into smaller pieces, and rendered it.
Rendered lard isn’t exactly the most attractive smelling item in the kitchen, as it turned out, but an open window helped. Then I strained the mixture. Humans got the rendered lard; Mingus the Super Dog got a pretty good snack of “cracklins” later that day.
Here’s what leaf lard looks like (phew!) after it’s been refrigerated. It’s a short step to a ball of piecrust dough.
I’ve been using Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for most of my gastronomical explorations, and apple pie is no exception, so following Mark’s advice I peeled, sliced and cored, and added in all the tasty stuff.
With that, it was time to get this puppy into the oven! Bake, dammit!
A little while later, THE PIE miraculously appeared out of the oven.
I was worried, though. Would my relatives like my leaf lard pie?
Was this. . .
Or this . . .
Or this . . .
. . . to be my pie-making destiny?
NO! It was not!
It was thumbs up all around!
My leaf lard apple pie was a little slice of heaven!
It was so good, it drove folks nuts!
I was pretty proud of my leaf lard apple pie.
I sure was.
(With thanks to son Noah, niece-in-law Sierra, and nephew-in-law Mo for the facial gestures)