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Praise the lard

Wallow in the goodness, pig fat is making a comeback.

Pork reigns. Braised belly, Berkshire chops, even bacon ice cream—pig is big on menus all around the Bay Area. As hogs wallow in the spotlight, it only follows that lard would nose its way back into our good graces. The unfairly maligned cooking fat is slowly regaining its place in the kitchen. Even health gurus are giving lard the nod, now that they realize it’s lower in saturated fats and higher in monounsaturated “good” fats than butter. And if you think it will make your fried chicken taste like fried pork chops, think again. Surprisingly delicate and clean-flavored, lard leaves no perceptible aftertaste. Pure lard hasn’t been easy to find—don’t even think about those blocks of hydrogenated lard at the supermarket. They’re no better than trans fat–laden shortening. But now Prather Ranch Meat Company is selling tubs of lard, slowly rendered from the fat of pasture-raised heritage pigs. A high smoke point means it’s ideal for frying, and nothing makes a flakier piecrust. Save the olive oil for your vinaigrette, and the butter for your bread. Next time you fry potatoes or make a tart, put your faith in the lard. Prather Ranch Meat Company: Ferry Building Marketplace (Market St. at Embarcadero), S.F., 415-391-0420,