Rhubarb is, in all its fleeting glory, inarguably one of springtime's greatest pleasures. As James Beard himself wrote, "The minute I see those enormous leaves and red stalks coming up through the ground... I know that the earth is once more sending forth good things to eat." Another item on the season's hit list? A sweet yet tart strawberry–rhubarb crisp, fresh from the oven. Beard Award nominee Matt Jennings couldn't agree more, and takes the classic dish to new heights with a surprising twist added to the crumble topping: lard.
"Yes! Rendered pork fat makes the topping especially lacy and delicate, with a hint of meaty savor," writes the Boston-based chef in his Beard Award–nominated cookbook, Homegrown: Cooking from My New England Roots. While the topping may be less traditional than your standard crumble, the recipe itself is flexible; you can apply it to any fruit crisp of your choosing—apple in the fall, peach in late summer, the choices are endless. Upgrade your dessert game.