You may recall that I ended a 20 year stint as a vegetarian last summer.  My health has continued to improve, so yay.  Having cut out wheat, most forms of soy, all industrial seed oil (canola, corn, soybean, etc), and most sugar means that I don’t eat a lot of processed food any more.  Or eat out very much.  So I have to cook a lot and prepare a lot to eat this way.  I took the full Ma Ingalls plunge a couple of days ago and rendered lard.

I’d been saving up my pork fat scraps from when I get pork shoulder to make pulled pork (recipe here.  So good.  So easy).  I thought it was going to be some long, arduous process, but no.  Chop up fat, heat fat, drain.  Here’s a link if you don’t believe me.  But really, why are you so suspicious?  I thawed it a bit, chopped it up and tossed half in the crock and half in the oven.  The oven was faster and resulted in crispier cracklin’s.

Cracklin’s for those of you who didn’t read Little House or grow up in the South, are the bits of pork left behind after the fat has melted.  Well, most of it.  Some of the cracklin bits are really fatty, even after a second render.  Once I’d drained off all the lard, I put both batches of cracklin’s back into the oven for a final render and a crispin’ up.  That last bit of lard is porkier and better for cooking taters.  The crispy bits?  Add some salt and munch.  I let Steve eat the fattier ones and I went for the meatier ones.

They were yum.  Too yum.  I ended up sleeping horribly and dreamed of making cracklin’s all night long in one of those horrible not-quite-asleep stress dream cycles.  Not to be defeated by pork fat, last night I chopped some up and added it to cornbread in a recipe from the Little House cookbook (I found it online, but I think I might need that book…).  It was good, but not good enough to warrant the hassle of making a separate pan for my still-vegetarian daughter.  Next time, I’ll just stick with butter.  Gobs and gobs of butter.  And, on the up-side, I slept fine.

But I still have rather a lot of these cracklin’s and no idea what to do with them.  I’m enchanted by the decadence of deep frying them, but I don’t actually LIKE that sort of thing. Ideas?  I hear tell of a Hungarian biscuit that uses them, perhaps I could modify it to gluten-free.

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