Thought I had lard, I had backfat, now it's in my pie crust
November 29, 2018 3:59 PM   Subscribe

For pie crust I use 50% lard, 50% butter. I just cut in what I thought was lard, but I realized it was really soft. Checked the package and it's backfat. Oops! All my fat is now cut into my flour - is it going to be bacon-y? Can I just roll it out carefully and make it anyway? This is for a pumpkin pie - definitely dessert.

I guess if it will be a taste issue I could make a savory pie. Please advise. Thank you!
posted by Emmy Rae to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would take a smidge and bake it up to taste it first, but I bet it will be delicious with your pumpkin pie.
posted by Night_owl at 4:22 PM on November 29, 2018 [8 favorites]

If you mean what people in my part of the US call "fatback," the likely problem will be texture and not flavor.

The lard you use in a pie crust has been rendered, which means it's been heated, strained, and cooled again. Animal fat that hasn't been rendered is like the white part of uncooked streaky bacon, or the cap of fat on the side of a raw steak: actually solid. Once it's been rendered, it's more like butter, or like the cooled pool of bacon grease in the bottom of a pan: hard if it's cold enough, but smearable and spreadable. The different textures make them good for different things, and for pie crust you always want the rendered kind.

What's sold as "fatback" in the US hasn't been rendered. So unless you render it yourself, it won't give your pie crust the right kind of texture.

(Sorry if this is stuff you already know, or if you took care of the rendering already, or if "backfat" means something different where you are than what I'm imagining.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:41 PM on November 29, 2018 [8 favorites]

To clarify -- was your backfat rendered, or was it unrendered? I am not actually sure what will happen if it was unrendered, but you may find the texture of the resulting product to be different. I've never actually baked with unrendered backfat, so I'd suggest maybe freezing it for experimentation -- meat-filled hand pies, maybe?

For a pumpkin pie, I'd probably just go ahead and make the crust over, unless I was planning on sharing the pie with some particularly adventurous friends.
posted by halation at 4:43 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

(On non-preview: regardless of the renderedness situation, or if you're not sure whether the stuff you had was rendered or not, baking up a scrap seems like a good way to get an answer.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:47 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can always blind bake the pie crust to make sure it's not going to dissolve
posted by bq at 5:50 PM on November 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

As far as the taste part goes, though, it is surprising how nice a savory crust can be with a sweet pie. I think it used to be much more common a hundred years ago, just before I was a young man.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:51 PM on November 29, 2018 [9 favorites]

Did you do it by hand or with a food processor?

If I were you, I’d put the dough and processor bowl + blade in the freezer, whack it through one more time into a pebbly consistency, wrap the dough to rest & chill in the fridge, roll it out and cross my fingers.

Fatback is delicious. How bad could this be?
posted by jbenben at 6:16 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

It is unrendered - I specifically remember asking this same store for lard a different time and they said I could buy backfat and render it.

I mixed it by hand.

I will try rolling it out and if it is a disaster I'll reconsider.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:32 PM on November 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Please update and let us know!
posted by jbenben at 6:52 PM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Okay it was super easy to roll out, and I parbaked it and it is flaky and tastes great. Whew! You're all invited to Minneapolis to eat my totally non-disaster pie.

Also, my pumpkin pie secret is:
1. use fresh cooked squash rather than canned for good taste and texture
2. add zest of 1/3-1/2 an orange
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:08 PM on November 29, 2018 [32 favorites]

Dang that must have been some choice soft backfat! I am so happy for you; what a ride!
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:14 PM on November 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm confused - what I know as back fat is solid - you could dice it with a knife into pieces that would feel like, uh, pieces if you squeezed them between your fingers, unlike lard which would smear like crisco if you did the same.
posted by STFUDonnie at 7:16 PM on November 29, 2018

Oh damn, it is fatback, not back fat. How can those be two different things?! And here I thought I was a fats expert.

The texture was like super soft lard. Like the consistency of duck fat if you are familiar.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:30 PM on November 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ha ha, that’s so funny! I read your description and mentally processed “backfat” as “fatback,” which it was. I didn’t notice you used the wrong word at all.

I’m totally considering this innovation for my next pie crust if it turns out A++. Thank you for the pumpkin pie tips!
posted by jbenben at 7:36 PM on November 29, 2018

> The texture was like super soft lard. Like the consistency of duck fat if you are familiar.

I'll bet you a dollar it was rendered. Fat with that consistency doesn't exist as-is in any animal I've ever butchered. Can you share a photo of the package label?
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:00 PM on November 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not much info on the label, sorry:
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:07 PM on November 29, 2018

Yeah that's mislabelled. It's lard.
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Holy crap, you and I shopped for fats in the same co-op! Anyway, thanks for the pie and crust report.
posted by jadepearl at 11:27 PM on November 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

Anybody who is worried that a bacony taste might ruin a sweet dish needs to be reminded that bacon ice cream is a thing.
posted by flabdablet at 2:28 AM on November 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seward pie party!
posted by ialwayscryatendings at 9:26 AM on November 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Omg! I’m going to the same co-op right now! Seward pie party, indeed! (Sounds delish!)
posted by sucre at 10:56 AM on November 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

This post was a ride! I wish I had a co-op for pie parties!

But I'm totally confused now. Was the fatback actually fatback? I've only ever purchased it in sliced form, so I'm thrown off by the container and the consistency. The fatback I've used had a consistency between bacon and suet. (I'm just trying to level up my culinary knowledge. I've come a long way from the time I set water on fire...)
posted by Ruki at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2018

I think it was probably lard. I will have to ask for clarification next time I go to the co-op*, and possibly see a bunch of MeFites!

*I actually go to the Seward Friendship Store, not the original location.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:02 AM on December 2, 2018

Update! Today I saw that the store had both fat back and lard, in similar containers and identical in appearance. I asked at the meat counter what the difference is, and the lady told me that they are from different parts of the body. She said the fatback melts faster and is more popular for sausage and frying things in, whereas the leaf lard is used for baking as it retains its texture for longer when you mix it.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:48 PM on December 16, 2018

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