I’m in a new-location-malaise. I know, poor pitiful me, what a hard life I have, but it’s true. I feel like a lump, a real sad sack. I think a need a routine and some friends. Thinking about my friends reminded me of this draft I had saved and not yet published, which was inspired by a fun dinner out I had back in Denver. One friend got a vegetarian 3-course meal, and two of the courses had butters of sorts accompanying. A delicious, slightly sweet pecan butter, an onion butter that I didn’t get enough of a taste of to figure out what they did, and…some other butter. Give me a break, I had gone out with other friends before, so I don’t remember too well all the butter details. But what I do know is, is that I had a bunch of walnuts in the freezer and a lot of confit pork bits leftover from making lard. Those little bits are great added to pan-fried potatoes and great, it turns out, puréed with walnuts, onion, and salt.
Now I’ll let you in on a little secret lard rendering technique I like – keeping little bits of meat on the fat pieces. It’s perhaps not for pie crust lard, and it’s perhaps not really a secret, but it sure is nice to have a pile of melty meat and fat bits that you can store in a jar for just such inspired moments as deciding to make a nut and pork butter with them. I desperately need a meat source here in Texas, though, so I can render more lard. I finally got my source for raw milk and eggs here, but I haven’t found a farm that will deliver ground beef and a pork package of unknown contents to me each month. I don’t really want to go to a farmers’ market every weekend to get meat. I’m fine with it sometimes, but I really did like the CSA aspect of my source in CO. But my situation is dire and I need pork fat!
Now clearly this is a pretty loose type of recipe. My blogger friend Mark gets really creative and adds oil that he used to fry kaffir lime leaves in. Seriously, there’s no way to eff this up. Use a different nut – I can’t wait to use pecans, use a different animal – lamb is calling my name, and of course try spices or other aromatics – garlic, chile peppers, whatevs. If you have the intention to make this before you make your pork bits, then you could start the seasoning there. Render the lard with fresh herbs in the pan or garlic. Otherwise, starting with unseasoned bits will be just fine. I put this pork butter on baked potatoes and it was pretty magical. Um, I also put some on a burger I cooked. I think that’s gratuitous. Don’t be like Julie (no that’s fine, I’m alright).
pork walnut butter
2 cups raw walnuts
1/4 – 1/3 cup pork scraps after rendering lard or just lard
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 – 1/4 vidalia onion
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. That’ll take a little bit of time, though you’re welcome to experiment with varying textures. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a bit more onion, which then I also didn’t purée quite as much, so there were small bits of onion throughout.