Just that morning, I'd used the last of the leaf lard I’d been adding to my galette or pie dough for extra tenderness when the words Mangalitsa and fatback jumped out to me from a little signboard at the Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Market.
I stopped in front of what has to be one of the smallest stalls at the market, Peads & Barnetts. In fact, this was just its second week there. The name is that of one of Oliver Woolley’s small pig farms in North San Diego County where he raises Mangalitsa, or Hungary’s woolly pigs, a breed closely related to Europe’s wild boars and prized for its thick layer of particularly tasty fat.
He didn’t have leaf lard, but he did have fatback in 2-pound packs at $3.50 a pound. “It’s not rendered,” Woolley said, “but all you have to do is put it in a pan with a little water over a low flame so the fat doesn’t sizzle as it renders. You’ll get pure white fat.”
Sold. I’m no good for pie-baking season. Adding just a little pure lard to the dough gives it an ineffable tenderness. You can add more, of course, or make your crust with all lard, but I like the taste of butter with a little lard best.