Who You Callin’ “Lardo”!??

In one of my fancy meat shipments several months back, I received three large packages of hazelnut-fed pork fatback from some folks called Tails & Trotters in the Northwest.

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I couldn’t remember if I actually ordered them or not, my purveyor friend sometimes throws in bonus items I didn’t order.

Fatback, for those not in the know, contains very little to no meat. It other words, it’s pure fat. Silky, white, glorious fat.

What does one do with three large packages of pork fat? When it comes to fat, I’m often partial to the Italian approach (although the Chinese and the Mexicans do some pretty great stuff with fat, too…) And when it comes to fatback, there really is only one thing to do: lardo.

I remember first reading about lardo in Bill Buford’s book, “Heat,” in which an intoxicated Mario Batali was placing slices of the pork confection on people’s tongues at a dinner party. Quite simply, it is cured fat — basically a fat salumi, if you will. The best lardo, they say, comes from Colonnata in Tuscany, where it has been made in the same way since Roman days, in basins made of the local Carrera marble.

I have used it on pizzas and in pastas. I have crisped it up and placed it on top of salads. But the best preparation, in my humble opinion, is to slice it thinly and place it on top of crusty, thick-sliced toast hot off the grill.

You may face some initial resistance from your health-conscious, gluten-free friends to eating pure silky pork fat unadorned on bread. But be persistent.

And be sure, when making lardo, to source the best heritage pork fat you can — not only will it make a difference in the finished product. But pork stores a lot of those hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and other things you don’t really want in the fat.

*    *    *

Lardo
serves lots

2-3 lbs. pork fatback
1 cup coarse salt
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leafs, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. ground pepper

Lardo will take 2-3 months to make, so patience will be necessary (as will be creativity to find good, healthy pork fatback).

Mix together salt, rosemary, bay leafs, garlic and pepper. Pack liberally around pork fatback slabs.

Traditionally, lardo is cured in marble basins (see above). I wrapped mine in parchment paper, then placed in plastic ziplock bags, then wrapped in foil. The foil step is key to keep light from affecting the fat while curing.

Place lardo, thus wrapped, in the fridge and let cure for 2-3 months.

Remove from paper, re-wrap in plastic and store in freezer until ready for use. Lardo will keep six or more months tightly wrapped in the freezer. (Frozen lardo is also easier to slice thinly than refrigerated.)

Serve thinly sliced on hot toasted crusty bread.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. andreathompson2
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 14:50:11

    Yay, FAT!!

    Reply

  2. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 16:09:15

    Happy Easter Sean and Family!!!

    Reply

  3. Benjamin Thompson
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 21:49:22

    Sounds awesome. Completely OT, I was thinking about how I haven’t even been taking the time to read your posts lately. I’ve completely given up on writing my own. After I moved back to Minnesota, I was promoted to a directorship and now my first kid is coming in September so I’ve been very busy. But . . . while leaving Chicago, I mourn the loss of Eataly and many other wonderful food sources, there are some things that are actually better in Minneapolis like the bar none pasta at Bar La Grassa (the best F*&%ing pasta dish ever, Raw Tuna with Calamarata, http://s3-media4.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/OxMe0qE0z6r4iK3gFKWttA/o.jpg sashimi grade cubed raw tuna with a Fresno pepper sauce and calamarata rings, it’s sooooooo good) and the wonderful Asian grocery store United Noodle where you get to buy Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Malaysian fare all in one place! https://www.unitednoodles.com/store/ So you don’t have to go from place to place to get your ethnic on. Hope all is well in Cali, and yes, I love some fatback, I put some in split pea soup the other day.

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Apr 03, 2015 @ 23:41:56

      Hola Ben! I’ve been having trouble keeping up w/ my own blog, so I hear you. Very busy out these-aways, as well. Congratulations on the kid on the way, that’s of course the most exciting news in all of that. Although I did click through the two links — the pasta looks delish, and I’m digging United Noodles — even got Hawaiian stuff! Super cool.

      Reply

  4. Michelle
    Apr 03, 2015 @ 23:18:21

    I can’t let Steve see this. 😉

    Reply

  5. thejameskitchen
    Apr 04, 2015 @ 06:21:46

    Lardo, mmmmm, totally agree: the taste on hot grilled bread is exceptional. I’ll sometimes have it with a slice of a very ripe oxheart tomato on top. Nicole

    Reply

  6. pal-O
    Apr 11, 2015 @ 18:19:28

    I never knew that fatback and lardo had gone away! Whew glad I never received the memo! Live longer, eat fat!

    Reply

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