Tag Archives: pies

Unraveling The Mysteries of Lard


It’s easy to see why your grandmother loved it.

BUY IT!: Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient

I don’t know much about lard. My guess is not many people are experts in the field. I don’t remember my Mom ever cooking with it and have no recollections of a jar or carton sitting in our fridge or pantry.

I do know one thing. The common grocery store variety, is not lard. I mean, I guess, technically it is, but, then again, not really. That’s the first lesson I learned after paging through Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient. There is a commercially produced product. And, then there’s the good stuff. We all want the good stuff.

Who in their right mind would author a cookbook glamorizing an ingredient that has been vilified over the past twenty years? Leave it to the Editors of GRIT Magazine to attempt to bring lard out of the doghouse and into our kitchens again. And they make a compelling (and tasty) case.

Here’s an example. Did you know that lard contains only fifty four percent of the saturated fat found in butter AND it is trans fat free when rendered properly? I certainly didn’t. I guess that’s the point here. There’s a lot to learn about this much maligned cooking staple of days gone by.

This book takes the subject seriously. So seriously, that the first recipe you will come across is how to render your own lard. If you would rather take the easy route, the book provides some great online resources for buying lard that has been lovingly rendered for your culinary enjoyment.

There are 150 recipes here ranging from Cherry Pie to Pot Pie and just about everything in between. As you would expect, there are loads of delicious recipes for baked goods. That’s where our featured ingredient really shines. Nothing makes a crust as flaky as lard.


With all of this lard talk you’re probably saying to yourself, “Hey this is great, but, how about an example I can sink my teeth into”. Done! Here’s an amazing fried potato recipe just for you.

Here’s how to do it.

Fried Potatoes Deluxe

4 cups raw potatoes, shredded
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
¾ tsp. salt
Dash black pepper
Dash paprika
2 Tbsp. lard

In a large bowl combine the potatoes and cream. Add the salt, pepper and paprika. Mix Well.

Heat the lard in a large skillet over medium heat until just sizzling. Pour in the potato mixture and spread it evenly in the pan. Cover tightly. Reduce heat to low and cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and turn potatoes and cook uncovered until the other side is browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6
Recipe courtesy of Andrews MacMeel Universal. Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient, The Editors of GRIT Magazine © 2012

The Bottom Line: Your first inclination is to think that this is a novelty cookbook. Not true. Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient has tons of useful information on a topic that not a lot has been written on. The recipes are straightforward and easy for home chefs of all skill levels. Beautiful food images are sprinkled throughout the pages. Am I going to cook out of it every day? No. Am I going to break it out for that killer Southern Fried Chicken recipe? You betcha.

BUY IT!: Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret IngredientAuthor: The Editors of GRIT Magazine
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN-10: 1449409741

BUY IT!: Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient

Southern Pies Makes It As Easy As…

It all starts with a pie crust. At least that was what I had been told. I’ve actually had no personal experience.

Unbaked Pie Crust

This was the day that I had not been looking forward to. Not really dreading, but, just not looking forward to it. I’m one of those who believes that you fall into one of two camps (cooking wise that is). Either you’re a savory person or a sweet person. I happen to think I’m sweet too, but, savory is my hands down choice. For dessert, if I have the choice between a nice wedge of triple cream French Brie or a slice of cake. I’m going fromage every time. No question about it.

That takes me to today. A few weeks back, Nancie McDermott, the author of Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, sent me a copy of her new cookbook. Now is the the time to review the previous paragraph. Dessert, not my thing. The book however made the pies look amazing. Awesome photography, great history and explanations of the various types plus a wide assortment of pies to make. I had to give one a try. It’s my job, really.

I have cooked a ton of things in my life. But, I have NEVER made a pie. NEVER! This should be a real test of both the instructive powers of Nancie’s book and my ability not to screw up a great recipe.

Reading through the book I was curiously drawn to the section on chess pies. I hadn’t even heard of a chess pie before opening this book up. But, here was an entire chapter on the history, legend and proper construction of twelve chess pies. My choices were narrowed, it was a chess for sure.

Which one? I checked them all out. For a minute I thought my pie making fortunes would be linked with the Transparent Pie. What a cool name, If this pie was half as awesome as the name, it would be a hit for sure. But, after reading over a few more possibilities, it became clear that my lot would be cast with Leah Chase’s Lemon Chess Pie. It was decided.

Lemon Chess Pie

Let the cooking/baking/making begin! I assembled all of the necessary ingredients and got to work. The first decision I was faced with was which type of crust to use. There are recipes in this book for making your own crust, but, Nancie says it’s OK to use a store bought crust. Which do think I would choose? Store bought, that’s right. I had enough on my plate (so to speak) without the anxiety of having to whip up a homemade pie crust.

Time to do it! I combined all of the filling ingredients in the prescribed manner and order. Easy so far. What was I so worried about? I filled up my certainly inferior, store bought pie crust and popped it in the oven, set a timer and crossed my fingers.

It says 35 to 45 minutes baking time. I started checking it around 30 minutes. The last thing I wanted to do at this point was burn the thing. I kept an eye on it and took it out right at the end of the cooking time range. It looked awesome!

Lemon Chess Pie

The directions were right on. I could not believe how easy this was. What was I thinking the past several decades? The cooling time seemed like forever. I wanted a piece of my new creation right now! It took about an hour or so to cool to room temperature. Now the moment of truth…

Lemon Chess Pie

It was good! Really. I’m not just saying that because I cooked it (even though I know it sounds that way). It was good. Sweet, lemony and a little bit crunchy from the cornmeal. I had a little trouble keeping the crust from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but, I’m guessing that was more my fault than the recipe. If I had gone the extra mile and made my own crust, it probably would have taken care of that.

Lemon Chess Pie

Here’s how to do it.

1 9” pie crust
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 evaporated milk
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine sugar, cornmeal, flour and salt in a medium size mixing bowl. mix thoroughly with a fork. Add in the eggs, butter, lemon juice, evaporated milk, and lemon rind. Mix well until it’s really thick and smooth. I used a fork and a rubber spatula.

Pour mixture into your pie crust and place in the oven on the bottom rack. Start checking on it at about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven when the pie is fairly firm and wiggles only a little when the tin is nudged. Place on a rack to cool to room temperature.

The Bottom Line

Nancie McDermott’s book, Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan really hits the mark. It’s fun and informative to read and contains lots of great pie recipes. If you know someone who is a baker this would make a nice addition to their collection. If you know someone who is not a baker (like me), this is a fantastic place to start.

Buy This Book

Pages: 168
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN: 081186992X