Rendering Fat and Fresh Chicharron
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Ingredients / Equipment:
- Back and Hindquarter Fat
- Cheese Cloth
- Mason Jar
- Tajín Seasoning
- Fresh Lime or Real Lime Crystalized Powder
Knowing how to render fat is on my essential skills list for hunters whether it is wild boar, bear, or bison. Knowing how to produce your own lard is a great way to get the most out of your kill. With a little work and some patience you will find rendering your own lard easy and rewarding.
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Start by cubing your fat into rough cut pieces about 1½” by 1½”. Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of your cut pieces and once the fat starts to run you can add more. Continue to cook and stir until all of the fat has been rendered down into liquid leaving just small pieces of golden brown fried meat. Dip out as much of the meat as you can. Allow the oil to continue to render until the liquid is clear. Any cloudiness you see is water still in the fat. You want all of the water removed from the oil. Once the oil is completely clear, pass the liquid fat through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. Pour the filtered liquid fat into a mason jar.
As the fat cools you will see it turn into a beautiful snowy white lard. The end product is great for frying wild game, adding needed fat to lean meat cuts, and perfect for baking. The oil takes biscuit and pie-crusts to the next level of flavor.
One of my favorite by-products of the rendering process is the flavorful bits of meat left after all the fat has been rendered down. These crispy bits are known as Chicharrón. To prepare, toss with lime juice, Tajín Seasoning and Tapatío for a truly unique flavor of Mexico. Pair with your favorite cerveza and tequila blanco and you are on your way. I first had this flavor combination in Alberqurque, New Mexico with my wife. It was one of those flavors I have never been able to forget. Different from pork rinds, these cuts are meatier and more substantial, crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside.
A note on Fat:
Always render a small test batch from the fat off of your kills to determine the animals flavor profile before you dedicate time to the complete process. Fat can vary greatly in flavor depending on the animal’s diet. The fat may be sweet as in the case of a boar fattened on acorns, or the other extreme, fishy, from a coastal bear that had been eating rotten, spawned out salmon.