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Lardo at a Glance
Italy, South Central Europe
Type of Charcuterie
Dry Cured Meat
Pork back fat, garlic, salt, black pepper, rosemary
Lardo di Colonnata, Lardo di Arnad, Lard pancettato, salo, slanina
Lardo is an Italian salumi that has been made dating back to Roman times. The term lardo which literally means lard is a description of this cured product. Made from back fat taken right under the skin of the pig, this traditional processed meat was considered to be peasant fare during earlier times.
One of the most popular types of lardo, the Lardo di Colonnata was made in the past as food for marble miners. However, today, lardo has gone from food of the poor, to a gourmet delicacy with certain types being protected under government standards.
The best lardo is often made in marble bins that have been rubbed with garlic. The fatty meat is then pierced with small holes and rubbed down with salt. The room temperature meat is then layered with the salt, black pepper and rosemary in between the pieces. The meat is then left to cure in the marble containers for several months to a year depending on the thickness and size of the fat. Cool temperature facilitates the curing and helps with the formation of the lardo.
Once cured, the lardo turns out to be a thick fat slab. It may have a few pink streaks on the inside from a little lean meat, but most of it is white. It is encrusted with spices on the outer layer.
The thought of consuming pieces of fat, may seem off, but lardo is not oily at all. It is usually sliced very thinly so that it melts in the mouth when consumed. Lardo has a flavor and texture that delicate with a flavor that is rich, creamy, slightly sweet, herbaceous and mild all at the same time.
Thin strips of lardo are traditionally consumed atop warm slices of bruschetta. Other whipped versions may be spreadable and are applied on bread as a spread. Aside from being eaten with bread, lardo strips may also be wrapped around pieces of fruit, mixed into salads and pasta.
It is a good substitute for both pancetta and bacon and is also used as an ingredient in many dishes due to the fat it renders. Lardo can also be included in an antipasto platter or sliced thickly and used for a sandwich.
Photo Credit: kstenqnen