Lardo: The Poor Man’s Prosciutto
Photo Courtesy of Bill Milne
Yield: 8 pieces, ready to be sliced
- Pyrex, ceramic, or terra-cotta container and cover
- A weight for the meat
- Sea salt
- A solid piece of back fat, cut into 8″ (20 cm) pieces, at least 1″ (2.5 cm) thick—the thicker the better
- Rosemary leaves, removed from the sprigs
Some of the most famous lardo in the world comes from a place in Italy called Colonatta. Lardo is traditionally cured in marble vats inside caves for many months at a time. If you have a cave and a marble vat, awesome! You’ll be able to make great lardo and I want to try some. If not, have no fear. You’ll still be able to make great lardo.
The quality of the fat here is essential. No matter how sharp your technique is, the quality of your lardo will be severely restricted by your ability to source high-quality fat. One reliable way to find quality meat is to head to the farmers’ market and ask for the thickest, creamiest, most delicious fatback they’ve got. For me, heritage-breed pigs produce the best fat, my favorite being the Gloucestershire old spot. Its fat is thick, pure, creamy, and incredibly flavorful.
You can really go to town in terms of adding spices to your lardo. Great-quality fat offers so much pure flavor that I highly encourage you to keep your seasonings simple. Here, we’re using two seasonings—salt and rosemary.
- Massage the sea salt into the fat.
- Stack pieces of fat on top of each other. Stacks of 2 are enough, but you can stack the fat as high as you’d like. Place the rosemary leaves all along the surfaces of the fat pieces, ensuring even distribution.
- Place in a Pyrex, ceramic, or terra-cotta container and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Place a weight over the paper, so that the fat is weighed down.
- After 4 weeks, remove the weight. Let the fat rest in the cooler for at least 3 to 6 months. The famous lardo di Colonnata is rumored to rest in the marble vats for 6 months before being eaten.
- Slice thin and eat, ideally on warm bread.
More From Cured Handcrafted Charcuteria:
Cover Courtesy of Sterling Publishing
Cured @2016 by Charles Wekselbaum, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. Photography by Bill Milne.
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