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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 and saffron, and in the settynge doun put thereto a lytel vynegur medelet with pouder of canell, and take other braune and cut smal leches of two ynches of length, and cast into the pot and dreue up tone with tother, and serve hit forthe.

From Carodiac’s Miscellany


Preparing Pork to taste like Wild Boar
This marinade is rather strong, but the result is really quite good. If you like wild boar, this does taste a lot like it. We used ribs, although the recipe calls for a fresh ham leg of pork, not smoked or salted). You need to vary the time you marinade the pork according to its thickness I left the ribs in 24 hours and that seemed to be about right. Marinade for 5-6 lbs pork ribs or leg:

  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 tablespoons of wine vinegar
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 shallots minced
    (or add an extra onion and a touch more garlic)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 parsley stalks
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 tsp saltPut all the ingredients in 8′ sauce pan bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.Allow to cool.Put the meat in a deep china bowl and pour the marinade over it. Place in the refrigerator and turn the meat at least once a day. Or, you can put the meat in a boiling or roasting bag with the marinade and turn it once a day. A pork leg should marinate for 4 days.At the end of the marinading period, remove the meat and wipe it off.At this point you can:
    1. Roast the meat as usual (350 degrees for ½ hour per pound).
    —or—
    2. Place the meat in a roasting bag and cook for the above time.If you wish you can reserve the marinade, mix with the cooking juices and 1 cup of beef stock and add a flour and water paste to make sauce. Boil the sauce for several minutes to evaporate the alcohol

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