You can buy pork fat in a butcher shop, grocery store, or online.
Training as a chef, I was taught that lean meat and lean pork was overrated. If you want flavor, then fat is the way to go. So, I was trained in choosing and cooking with pork fat.
In this post I will show where to buy pork fat as well as other tidbits you need to know about this ingredient!
Before I tell you where to buy pork fat, I first need to break down the different types for you. Each type of pork fat comes from a particular part of the pig. As they each have their own uses, it is important to know exactly which kind that you need:
The quality of the pork fat is often tied to the region of pig that it is taken from. This is why leaf lard is often considered the best pork fat - it comes from the soft fat around the kidneys.
Here, the leaf lard is often rendered - this means that it is slowly melted and strained and then allowed to cool and solidify once more.
It has a soft, spreadable texture. What it is most prized for, though, is the flavor. Unlike other types, the pork taste is delicate and practically unnoticeable. This is why it can be used in all types of recipes, including dessert-based ones such as pie crusts.
As it is quite soft, though, it is rarely called for in a sausage recipe.
This can be considered the second best pork fat type to buy. As the name suggests, this is a portion of solid back fat. If you are making homemade pork sausages, then this is what you need to use.
Not only does back fat have a more solid texture, it also has a stronger pork flavor to it as well. Thus, anything that you cook with it will retain this taste.
Many people will tell you that the caul is the lowest quality pork fat. However, this is merely because the fat can be tricky to clean and prepare. What's more, few people actually know how to cook the caul.
In certain circles, it can be considered a gourmet food due to its strong pork flavor and the fact that it fries down to a nice crispy texture. This type of pork fat is usually used as a covering, much like you would find in a sausage recipe.
Now, let's take a look at where you can buy pork fat:
The place that you are most likely to visit is your local grocery store but you should be mindful that you may not be able to find all kinds of pork fat here.
You are most likely to come across leaf lard - it may come canned or in a jar. You may be able to find it in the same aisle as the oils. Now, it is important to realize that lard and leaf lard aren't the same things.
Therefore, always check that the label says leaf lard before making your purchase. Keep in mind, quality matters here so it is worth it to pay extra for the best pork fat.
It is possible that you may come across both fatback as well as caul in the grocery store. If the fresh meat counter doesn't have any, check out the frozen section. You may find some fatback here, although it is unlikely you will come across caul.
Lard isn't as common in a butcher shop, but in terms of where to buy pork fat, there is a higher chance of you finding fatback and caul here. I would be surprised if your average butcher shop stocked up on this kind of pork fat - you are much more likely to purchase them in gourmet stores or ones that offer up unusual fare.
My advice would be to plan ahead and call up the butchers ahead of time. This will save you any unnecessary trips. Not to mention, it will also give your butcher the opportunity to see if they can find a supplier for you.
If all else fails, ask your butcher for the name of the farm or slaughterhouse from where they get their pork from. Then, go straight to the source. These individuals may be willing to make some extra money from parts that they may otherwise throw away.
Depending on where you live, buying pork fat may be easier online. Now, with lard, there isn't too much issue with freshness. As long as it has been prepared and packaged properly, it should be safe to consume.
With fatback and caul, though, you need the meat to be fresh. This is why it is a good idea to look for butchers or similar providers. Make sure that the meat is fresh and that it is stored properly, especially if it needs to be transported.
Whenever possible, buy pork fat from a butcher or a supplier that is as close to you as possible. This way, the meat will not have to spend as much time in transit. Make sure to store it properly the moment that it arrives at your doorstep.
Well, this would all depend on the type of pork fat as well as how you plan on using it.
Pork lard tends to have a longer shelf life as long as it is stored properly. Furthermore, it is a more versatile ingredient and can be used in a variety of ways. This means that you are more likely to use it up quickly. As a result, getting a bit more will be fine.
When it comes to fatback, it all depends on what you are using it for. Are you making pork sausages? If so, is it a one time thing or are you planning on making these rather often? Buy pork fat according to this.
When it comes to caul, I would say that less is more, particularly if you have never cooked with it before. As it can be rather time consuming to prepare and it isn't used very often in foods, a little bit may go a long way.
As you will have noticed, it isn't easy getting your hands on pork fat. So, why is it such a scarce commodity?
Well, the main reason is that there isn't as much demand for pork fat anymore - in fact, there are a precious number of modern recipes that call for it. Unless you are making sausage at home with ground pork and other meats, few foods call for it directly.
You may remember that several years ago that many people went on an anti-fat strike when it came to their food. All fats were automatically considered bad and unhealthy. This led to a reduced used of foods such as lard and pork fat.
Now, pork fat isn't exactly healthy - it is high in calories and fat but has barely any protein or other nutrients. That being said, it is on par with foods such as butter. Due to its unfortunate name, though, it has gotten a bad rep.
As such, butchers and grocery stores don't feel the need to stock up on it. You can think of it as a novelty item.
Here is how to get a delicious batch each and every time:
When making homemade sausage, it is about finding the right balance between fat and meat. In general, you should aim for 80 percent meat and 20 percent fat. Thus, look for fattier cuts such as pork shoulder or pork butt. Lean meat such as tenderloin is no good here.
Half of it can be back fat while the rest can be your chosen cut.
Prior to grinding the meat, make sure to trim any extra fat, sinew, or gristle. Otherwise, you will compromise the juicy texture of the sausage. To reduce how much effort you have to make, ask your butcher to do this for you.
When it comes to most seasonings and spices, you can add according to taste. This means that it is up to you to use as much or as little as you desire. With salt, however, make sure that you only add between 1.5 and 2 percent of salt. This means that for every 100g of meat, you use 1..5 to 2g of salt.
Last, but not least, you have the option between natural and synthetic casings. Personally, I prefer natural because you simply can't beat the taste. If you are more concerned with your batch looking nice and uniform, though, then choose the synthetic.
This is all that you need to know about where to buy pork fat. Now that you are a master on the subject, it is time to venture out on your own and find what you need!