Pork fat. For most food nerds, that’s conjures a strange response within. Like Pavlov’s dogs hearing a bell ring, your eyes widen, your heart skips a beat, and your mouth salivates for no reason other than the revered deliciousness of an oft so disdained and discarded ‘by-product’ of the ‘other white meat’.
For the ill-advised, pork fat is evil. Pork fat is fattening. Pork fat is unhealthy. Pork fat is gross.
Pork isn’t meant to be white meat. Pork fat isn’t meant to be discarded. In fact, pigs were raised for their fat not too long ago. But somewhere along the way, somebody decided that consuming animal fat equals bad, an evilness that has led creative ways of creating substitutes for a product our body inherently craves. Substitute that with “healthier” trans-fats, artificial sweeteners and factory farmed chicken breast and we realize that maybe something’s gone wrong somewhere.
And so here begs my duty – bring back the glory of pork fat.
I had a bit of pork fat trimming lying around from some home cured bacon. I also had a few health conscious friends coming over for dinner. Would they be suckered into eating pork fat if it were in the form of rabbit food (ie. a salad)?
Well, apparently, yes; a resounding one at that. In fact, my friend Kim loved it so much that she begged that I made her extra dressing to take home. She also asked me what those crunchy nuts in the salad were. Her reaction was priceless when I mentioned that those weren’t nuts but pork fat. Victory for the good guys.
Making the salad is simple. Throw some of the cut up pork fat into a cold pan and bring it up to temperature. Let the fat render and fat bits get crispy.
While that’s going on, fine dice some shallots and let them sit in Meyer lemon juice (also called macerating.)
When the pork fat is done, whisk in some of the rendered fat into the lemon juce/shallot mixture and top it off with olive oil. There should be about three times more oil than lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and then dress on a salad.
Top the salad with some citrus (in my case blood oranges), fat bits and a poached egg.