Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard. (Didn't know they graded that stuff, did you?) Lard is pork fat, BTW. I, like many, thought it referred to just fat in general. It comes from around the kidney/loin area of the pig and is highly prized because it is an excellent neutral-flavored cooking fat for moist, flaky pie crusts. (Pie crust? I'm in....)
The rendering is quite simple. Just cut the lard into small cubes. If you notice, it does not cut completely smoothly like butter, but has some residual "threads" of gristle (that's what rendering separates out...more about this stuff in a minute...). Put just the slightest amount of water (about 1/4 cup) in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add lard, and heat in the oven on a low temp - I use 250 degrees. Think low and slow. (Crock pots on low also work....)
Stir it occasionally as the fat melts. The "cracklins" begin to form - they are the strings of pork you felt as you cut that cook out during this process. Pork rinds! They are actually quite tasty and have uses - don't waste! Once the cracklins settle, remove pan and pour the liquid fat through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into canning jars. It will keep in the fridge for a month or more.
I told you to save the cracklins - also know as chiccharrons in some Mexican recipes -
This time we used them heated in a nice green tomatillo salsa, then loaded into tortillas with black bean refried beans. Don't forget the dollop of sour cream.....
Thank you again, Mr. Pig!