Yum. You know that gorgeous flavour of crackling from good roast pork? Well, when you render down fat to get pure lard, you end up with small crunchy bits that the Italians call ciccioli (pronounced "chich-ee-oh-lee",) which are heaven to nibble on in small amounts. They’re even better in a salad, tossed through pasta or baked into bread.
- 1 kg pork leaf lard
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 1 cup
Chop leaf lard into small pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add a splash of water.
Cook over low heat until the fat renders to a liquid, stirring often at first and less as it cooks. The rendering could take up to 1 hour or more. As the fat renders, there will be bits that begin to brown.
As you continue to heat the fat, the solids brown further to a point where they are just a little past golden brown. When it has stopped sizzling that means that all the water has cooked out. Once you get the color that you want, remove from heat and drain the rendered lard from the solids.
The liquid will set into pork lard, which you can use to make pastry, bread or as a cooking fat. The ciccioli can be sprinkled on salads, pizza or added to bread dough.
Store the lard in the fridge for about 1 month. The ciccioli is best stored in a sealed jar in the fridge until ready to use. Try making Matthew Evans' focaccia with ciccioli.
• Leaf lard comes from the inside of the pig rather than the outside like back fat. It’s mostly found around the kidneys, like suet from lambs, and makes the purest, sweetest form of lard, so it’s prized in baking.