I commented on her blog:
Here's a cookbook from 1862 on using lard to make puff pastry:
I’m happy you liked the lard!
A few comments:
Fat quality is determined by multiple factors like breed, feed and age at slaughter. Wooly Pigs, the company, optimizes those things to produce the highest quality fat.
When you’ve got a producer like Wooly Pigs, which optimizes fat quality, most people can’t perceive a huge difference betweent the lard rendered from the leaf lard and the fatback. You probably could have rendered lard from Wooly Pigs fatback (from Mangalitsa pigs) and gotten very similar results. Of course, if you don’t optimize the breed, feed or age at slaughter, the fat quality on the pig will vary more; so it would pay to take the leaf lard.
In a few weeks, I’ll have Mangalitsa lard for sale (5# buckets). It isn’t easy to get USDA-inspected lard made, but Wooly Pigs has done it.
There’s different ways to render lard. Depending on how hot you make the lard, you get more or less impurities in the lard. The Austrian ideal is fewer impurities. The goal is white fat that lasts a long time. That means rendering around 225F. In Mexico, for instance, I hear they render at higher temperatures, producing a more porky lard that doesn’t keep as long.
Mangalitsa lard whips. I suggest you render Mangalitsa lard at 225F, whip it, add salt and herbs and eat it: http://woolypigs.blogspot.com/2008/11/whipped-mangalitsa-lard-mangalitsa.html
In the past, people used a lard sieve to keep impurities out of their lard. I’ve rigged one up. It seems to improve the quality of the lard. You can see a photo of one here: http://woolypigs.com/_kropf.html
I think Mangalitsa lard is really amazing. There’s a bunch of steps, and it can go wrong at any step – but if you do them all right, you can really wind up with something amazing. As that antique lard sieve indicates, there was a time when people took lard very seriously.