Lardo is easier to make than it is to eat. Perhaps that’s not true but asking people to eat cured pork fat raises eyebrows in our fat-fearing culture yet it is one of the most decadent pleasures of life. For this reason we’re sharing how to make lardo.
Make it. Eat it. Love it.
What is Lardo
Putting it simply, lardo is cured fat from the back of the pig. It’s a thick layer directly below the skin of a pig and takes some care to remove correctly but it’s rarely seen in North America.
Lardo is cured with a salt box method just like pancetta, which is cured pork belly, and mixed with salt, and fresh herbs. The salt box method draws the moisture and creates a surface that prevents it from spoiling. Most lardo is aged for at least six months.
Making lardo is an art, one that we were so enthralled with that we made the pilgrimage north to Colonnata in Tuscany just to try the lardo di colonnata, which is cured in white marble boxes and considered the best in the world. After trying it we would agree.
Why Do People Eat Lardo
Like most of Italy’s great food it came out of necessity. Italians famously use every part of the animal, and pork fat was a great source of calories for the lower classes. Curing it kept the fat from going rancid, but Italians took it one step further and added herbs to make it delicious.
Don’t confuse lardo with lard, which is rendered pig fat.
How to Eat Lardo
Lardo is really versatile, in Modena it’s most commonly combined with garlic and more herbs to create the pesto modenese recipe. It’s also amazing just warmed on bread or whipped like a pork butter. At Loka Snacks we often serve it on its own, thinly sliced with aged balsamic and hazelnuts.
How to Make Lardo
Lardo is a commitment because you need to store it for six months, but it’s actually quite an easy cure. However, the bag you store it in must be black NOT ziploc – it is pork fat and will go rancid when exposed to light. This is why it’s stored in marble boxes in Colonnata as there is no light.
- 5 lbs fresh, skinless pork back fat
- 2 lbs kosher salt
- 12 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 2 tbsp black pepper, crushed
- 1 tbsp juniper berries, crushed
- 1 star anise, crushed
- Mix all ingredients (except pork) together to create the cure mix.
- Place pork in cure mix and distribute evenly.
- Place into a black plastic garbage bag.
- Set in a container to hold in fridge for six months.
- Each month redistribute cure over the pork, ensuring all sides are covered with cure.
- After six months rinse, pat dry.
- Enjoy on its own or on fresh toast.
If you love pork and curing meat check out this post on how to make pancetta in 60 seconds along with a video.
If you love lardo and want to know more about porky delicious foods like this check out our FREE 42-Page Culinary Guide to Modena – one of our favourite cities in Italy.