Top | Fat
(recipe, Jennifer McLagan)
Light and flaky, this is my husband's favorite pastry, as he finds my sweet pastry almost too rich. This sort of pastry is better suited to tarts than to double-crusted pies. Lard pastry is easier to make and roll than an all-butter one, and provides a more neutral background, allowing the flavor of the fruit to shine.
Also called flead or flare fat, leaf lard is the fat from around the pig's kidneys. Ideal for making pastry because of its brittle crystalline structure, this is the crème de la crème of pork fat. Ask for leaf lard at a reputable butcher. Farmers' markets occasionally sell it, although you may have to render it yourself. Do not buy the boxes labeled "lard" sold on grocery-store shelves, as this is partially hydrogenated. Variation: Replacing half the lard with cold butter — 2 ounces lard and 2 1/2 ounces butter — will yield a flaky pastry with a buttery flavor. Add the butter (the firmer fat) to the flour first.