One of the goals I have set for myself is to not throw anything out that might possibly have a use, and yet not keep things around that are unnecessary. This might sound contradictory and in some ways it is, but when it comes to food, it serves me very well.
Not wanting to waste any part of the foods we buy or grow, I have been able to come up with new recipes and uses for many things that would have otherwise been thrown out. It gives me a great sense of comfort knowing that I am making the most of what we have.
The other day, while I was making lard, I knew that once all the lard had been melted out of the pork fat there would be crispy pork fat left over. For years I have been making cracklings from pork that has a fairly high fat content but still enough meat to make them tasty and enjoyed the lard by-product I was left with once the cracklings were done. When faced, however, with a pork fat byproduct after rendering lard I wasn’t sure what could be done with it. This by-product was practically all fat. What could I possibly do with crispy fat?
Marrying someone with a different ethnic background than myself has opened many doors when it comes to culinary experiences. I am basically a mutt of ethnic lines — English/Irish, German, Russian-Polish, French, and there is even a rumor there could be some American Indian in the mix. Hubby, however, is Serbian through and through, born there and not coming here until he was a young boy. Albeit he is American at heart and to see or talk to him you’d never know he wasn’t born here, he still enjoys many of the customs and tastes of his homeland.
When Hubby learned that I was struggling to find a use for the crispy pork fat leftover from the lard rendering, he immediately suggested I make some crackling biscuits. He told me that his mother made these whenever she made cracklings and had some that were all or practically all fat. Intrigued I told him I’d give it a try.
Not sure exactly what an Internet search would produce, I spent over an hour going through page after page of recipes for crackling biscuits. It’s amazing how many are out there. Some of the recipes were from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Croatia, and yes, Serbia. I printed off five recipes that were all very similar, from different areas, and spent time comparing them. Finally, after discussing the ingredients with Hubby, I decided to combine several of the recipes into one quick and easy one. Starting off easy and then working my way up to something more difficult, if need be, seemed like the thing to do.
It was interesting that Hubby didn’t want me to go with the Serbian recipe I had found. When I told him that the Serbian one included wine though he laughed. He told me that there was no way his mother would have had wine to put in the biscuits when she learned how to do it. They didn’t have anything, let alone wine for cooking. Flour, salt, and cracklings were hard enough to scrape together.
The biscuits came together very quickly and seeing as Hubby didn’t want me to use yeast, as it would have made them light and fluffy, something you’d never accuse his mother’s biscuits of being, they were in the oven in less than 30 minutes. I set the timer for 25 minutes and we waited. The moment they came out of the oven, Hubby was standing at the counter. He took one off the tray, burned his fingers, but still continued to break it in half. His first comment was that it wasn’t cooked inside. I told him that he needed to let them cool on the cookie sheet. Reluctantly he put it back. A minute later he picked it up again and popped half of the biscuit into his mouth. You see, patience isn’t one of Hubby’s virtues.
I watched as he swished the biscuit from one side of his mouth to the other, prolonging my torture. Finally, after just a moment longer he smiled and said, “Perfect.” He proceeded to eat four more biscuits and with each one told me something else he liked about it: The texture, the amount of cracklings, the heaviness, the taste. Then, as he was eating his sixth he confessed that he never liked his mother’s biscuits warm. He always waited until they were cold and then would eat them sparingly. Not so with mine. By the time they were cool, nearly half the biscuits were gone. That spoke volumes.
- 2 1/2 Cups Flour
- 1 Tbsp. Salt
- 1/2 Cup. Milk
- 1 1/2 Cup Pork Fat Cracklings (shredded)
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tbsp. Pork Fat Lard
Combine the flour, salt, and shredded cracklings in a large bowl with a pastry blender until crumbly. Make a well in the center of the crackling mixture and add remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined. Knead lightly with hands until mixture forms a dough.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and pat to 1/2″ to 1″ thickness. With biscuit cutter, cut biscuits and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake biscuits at 400 for 25 minutes. Cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in sealed container.
Nothing is better than pleasing Hubby’s pallet, except of course topping one of my mother-in-law’s recipes, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.