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Rendering Lard, the Regency Crisco

While researching Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, I found many recipes that called for lard or suet (the beef alternative). It was often not immediately clear whether or not the authors were talking about straight, diced lard (like the kind used for adding fat and flavor to drier cuts of meat, as in “larding your roast”) or rendered lard, however a trip the local living history museum helped put my questions to rest. A basic rule of thumb when looking at period recipes, if it goes into the food (larding your meat, dicing it for mincemeat, etc.) you are talking about lard straight off the meat, often with tiny bits of meat still attached. If you are using it for frying or in pie crust, basically anywhere you might substitute modern Crisco or solid shortening, use rendered lard.

800px-HomelardAccording to Wikipedia, “Lard is pig fat in both its rendered and unrendered forms. Lard was commonly used in many cuisines as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. Its use in contemporary cuisine has diminished; however, many contemporary cooks and bakers favor it over other fats for select uses. The culinary qualities of lard vary somewhat depending on the part of the pig from which the fat was taken and how the lard was processed.

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Roasted Pork Ribs

My father furnishes him with a pig from Cheesedown; it is already killed and cut up, but it is not to weigh more than nine stone; the season is too far advanced to get him a larger one. My mother means to pay herself for the salt and the trouble of ordering it to be cured by the sparibs. Jane Austen to Cassandra When Mr. Woodhouse talks of killing a porker (Hartfield pork is so superior to any other kind) he is talking of a pig raised specifically to be eaten as pork. Pigs reared to be eaten as ham or bacon would have been fed on a different diet as they were wanted as large as possible; 40-50 pound hams and sides of bacon were not unusual. Porkers were killed when just grown and used fresh or salted. Roasted Pork Ribs Take the ribbes of a boor… and parboyle hem tyl thai byn half sothen, then take and roste hem, and when thai byn rosted, take and chop hem and do hem in a pot, and do thereto gode fresshe brothe of beef and wyn, and put thereto clowes, maces and pynes, and raisynges of Courance, and pouder of pepur, and take onyons and mynce hem grete, do hem in a panne with fresshe grees, and fry hem and do hem in the potte, and let hit wel sethe al togedur, and take brede stepet in brothe, and drawe hit up and do thereto, and colour hit with saunders (more…)