These are the two things I’ve learned so far from this project:
1. Pies and pie-like things haven’t changed much since the 19th century.
2. Animal fat is sinfully delicious.
You already know that I’m a salt pork enthusiast. Having only cooked with butter and oil prior to starting this project, the pork was a pleasant surprise. But now I’ve discovered lard.
Now, lard isn’t as obscure as salt pork. Bakers still use it to make pie dough (and maybe other things? I’m not sure). But I’d never seen it before, and I wasn’t sure how to procure it. Luckily, my friendly neighborhood farmer’s market boasts several meat stands, and on my weekly visit, one of them happened to be selling leaf lard. “For Serious Cooks,” the sign said.* I bought a package and took it home.
Lard looks, unsurprisingly, like a solid lump of whitish fat. The label read “Pork Suet,” making me doubt momentarily that I’d bought the right kind. But I gamely sliced off enough lard to fill a 1/3 measuring cup, separating the fat from stringy parts. Then I rubbed it into the flour and salt just like it was butter, and brought the dough together with some ice water. My hands felt a little greasy, but all seemed well so far.
The rest was relatively simple: I rolled out the dough and sliced it into squares, then put a dollop of apples mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar in the middle of each square. Then I folded the dough over the apples to create triangles, and sealed the edges with a fork. The turnovers baked for half an hour and came out steaming and smelling of spice.
Admittedly, I was a little nervous, what with the pork suet confusion and so on. But, my god, that lard made the flakiest, tenderest crust I’ve ever tasted. These are little pockets of apple deliciousness, my friends, and it’s all due to that animal fat.
Salt pork may get my enthusiasm, but lard gets my everlasting devotion.
*I got really excited by the sign. Apparently this project has elevated me to the level of Serious Cook!