People have strong opinions about lard. This, to be honest, I did not know until I started my own baking business, Marge. I make pie. And at home, I make pie using a mixture of butter and lard in the crust. But I learned quickly that this couldn't be done for the general public. There's a stigma against lard, is there not? Sure, it's an animal by-product, so if you're a vegetarian this would be an obvious issue. After being a vegetarian for fifteen years myself, I would've never wanted to purchase a slice of fruit pie without knowing it was made with lard. But that fact aside, I find that people are still scared of lard (although they'll freely use Crisco in cookies or pie crust).
The reality is that lard yields a beautifully flaky pie dough that you simple can't always achieve using solely butter. You don't have to use all lard: just a few tablespoons. And the kind of lard you're using certainly matters as well. You want to use a high-quality leaf lard which is garnered from around the kidneys and is a higher quality than the lard you'd just walk into a corner market and pick up. According to pie guru, Kate McDermott, it's actually lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than butter. Even Melissa Clark loves it.
So I have to ask, in all sincerity: what's the big deal?
Megan is a freelance writer and recipe developer. Her cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings, will be available in bookstores nationwide Dec/2013. Megan also owns the Seattle-based artisan cereal company, Marge Granola.
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