Lard-Roasted Potatoes – Snack of the Year?
In my last post, I talked a little bit about lard-roasted potatoes. While some people may fear animal fats, I am not one of them, and pork fat with potatoes is quite possibly the greatest combination ever.
I render my own lard at home from locally produced pork fat I buy for cheap at the butcher. Store-bought lard is often hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable, which means it contains trans fats, which are super bad for you. Home-rendered lard can be stored in the fridge indefinitely. Buy 1.5-2 pounds of pork fat, chop it into small pieces (this works better if it is frozen or very cold), and add it to a heavy-bottomed stock pot with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the fat is liquid and pale gold and the cut up pieces are crispy (these are lardons or cracklin’s). Strain out the cracklin’s (salt them and eat them as a snack or save them for cornbread) and strain the liquid lard into a glass jar (I use a paper-towel-lined canning funnel). As it cools it should turn white. Use it to make refried beans, fry or roast potatoes or onions, or in pie crust.
You can make these potatoes two ways, for dinner with bacon-wrapped pork loin, or as a snack or hors d’oeuvre, with malt vinegar sour cream sauce. Both are fantastic.
Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin with Lard-Roasted Potatoes and Garlic
This was my big Christmas party dish. I used locally produced white potatoes (which were also cheaper than the national brands). They’re definitely not as mealy and as russets, but neither are they as waxy as Yukon golds or red potatoes. I would use red potatoes or whatever local potato you have available if you can’t find white potatoes. Smaller ones are better as they will cook through faster. This recipe takes about 2 hours of baking, so start it well in advance. It also makes enough for at least 10 people, so cut down the recipe if you’re making it just for a few people (although you’ll never be sad about leftovers)
10-12+ smallish white potatoes
2-3 tablespoons home-rendered lard
15-20 cloves garlic, “tails” cut off
3-5 lbs boneless pork loin
1 lb nitrate-free bacon
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Center the rack.
Take a half sheet pan (13″x18″) and grease it liberally with the lard. Scrub the potatoes and cut away any sprouted eyes, bruises, or cuts. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and arrange cut-side down on the pan. It’s okay if the potatoes touch. Continue until you have filled the pan with potatoes. Sprinkle with the cloves of garlic, making sure they are evenlyish spaced between the potatoes. They do not have to touch the pan. Sprinkle at least 1 tablespoon of salt over all.
Take the pork loin and drape or wrap with bacon – make sure the bacon overlaps if possible. Place the pork loin on top of the potatoes.
Roast for 60-120 minutes or until bacon is crisp, potatoes are soft, and pork is done. If you get a shorter or narrower cut of pork, or if you cut a wide pork loin in half lengthwise, bake it for less time (start the potatoes first). If you fear overdone pork (it won’t be dry because of the bacon, but it will be white all the way through), bake the potatoes for an hour first, then add the pork and use a meat thermometer to get it to the correct temperature.
Slice the pork loin thinly and serve one or two slices with one or two halves of potatoes. The potatoes should be velvety soft, lightly salted, and faintly redolent of garlic and bacon. Mash the roasted garlic into the potatoes if you want.
Lard-Roasted Potato Bites with Malt Vinegar Sour Cream Sauce
This was my attempt to recreate the above roasted potatoes, but in bite-sized form for the New Year’s Eve party. It definitely did not turn out the same, but possibly even more delicious. The bites get crispy – they almost taste like the best potato skins you’ve ever had – and the sour cream sauce complements them perfectly. They are addictive.
6+ small-to-medium white potatoes
1-2 tablespoons lard
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1-2 tablespoons malt vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Center rack.
Scrub the potatoes and cut away any sprouted eyes, bruised, or cut spots. Halve them lengthwise, then into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter (they will look like potato wedges) in half or into thirds, depending on size.
Grease a half sheet pan (13″x18″) liberally with lard and place potatoes, one cut side down, on the pan. Space them out a little bit if you like them crispy. Sprinkle lightly with salt and bake 20-25 minutes. Then remove pan and with spatula flip and stir the potatoes so that most of the crusty sides are up. Return to oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
While the potatoes are baking mix the sour cream, scallions, and vinegar well. Taste and add more vinegar if necessary (you should be able to taste it). Salt to taste.
When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and serve piping hot with the sauce and toothpicks or skewers to eat with for a party, or forks if serving with dinner.
Actually, I could eat just the potatoes for dinner. YUM.
Reheat any leftovers in the oven (not the microwave) at a lower temperature, like 350 so they don’t dry out. You probably won’t have any leftovers though.