As I was chopping frozen hog fat today to render into lard, I was considering grinding it. Would a coarse grind work? The neighbors take their hogs to a slaughterhouse, I render the lard and we split it.
I was just rendering some lard today the larger the pieces the longer it takes. I have never tried grinding it it seems like extra work, but I would try it with a small batch to see how well it works. You probably already know this but it is good start the process with a little water to preventing scorching and of course very low temp. Just like smoking meat low and slow.
If you have a good grinder, grinding the fat is a great way to start the process. If your grinder keeps getting clogged or bogged down, then you might as well chop. It depends, really. I'd give it a try.
I use a grinder to grind fat for sausages. The key to it is that you want the grinder parts (assuming they are metal) as cold as possible. I put mine in the freezer for an hour before I grind. Same thing with the lard. Get it frozen near solid or as firm as your grinder will handle it. That make the whole process go smoothly and you don't end up with smeared fat on everything. I cut my fat into strips and then freeze it on a tray to keep the pieces from sticking together. Work fast and try to keep it all as cold as possible throughout the process.
I've been using my KitchenAid grinder attachment to grind lard before rendering in a crock pot, and it works great! It really cuts the time down. And keeping everything super cold isn't as necessary as when you're making sausage because you don't have to worry about the texture of the grind since it's just going to be rendered anyway. Although keeping things cold and working quickly is certainly good practice food safety-wise.
Thanks to the tips here, I kept things as cold as possible, I even froze the butcher knife. Greasy handles on sharp knives can be dangerous. It was packed in kitchen trash bags and then frozen, so I had to deal with it. Next time I'll thaw the fat and freeze the grinder. Should work faster.
Now I just have to figure out why it never got really solid.
I once used my food processor to blitz the large chunks into fine bits, freezing the set-up as you all do. This did, in fact, reduce the time it took to fully render the fat, however it also produced cracklin' crumbs. In our house, a beloved by-product of rendering fat is the cracklin's, but we prefer them in small, bite-sized nuggets. So, for future rendering, I will only cut the pork fat into 1-1.5" cubes.
My pie came with a little toothpic holding up this tiny ad: