Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lardo Is... Hardo

You can't scare me, strange-meat world.
Jellyfish tentacles? Ate some.
Tripe? Oh, don't make me laugh.
Brain? I was eating scrapple as a toddler.
I haven't tried all the organs of all the species, not by a long shot.
But, cockscombs? Had a bowl of them, with duck tongues!
So how hard could lardo be? The cured fatback of pork, seasoned with herbs. I'd heard so many stories about cutting luscious thin slices of the stuff, and mashing it into bread, almost like butter.
First, I could hardly cut it. It's fibrous and dense. Butter does not come to mind.
Second, when I took a bite, I nearly gagged on the texture. OK, I did gag. I could hardly close my teeth on the ropy tissue. Grease with gristle?
It tasted good. We served our little strips on bread, drizzled with a thin thread of honey and sprinkled with a few grains of Maldon salt.
It was even better once we gave up on the lardo and ate the bread with honey and salt (and that nice smear of fat left behind).
I've got a whole slab of this trembling white product. I think I'm going to have to apply heat.

21 comments:

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Oh my. No thank you. I hope the heat helps.

Zoomie said...

I have to admit I have always felt gaggy when I heard lardo mentioned - it just didn't seem appealing. And now I find that there are texture issues besides? Oh, noes!

kudzu said...

I'm no lardo expert but I can't remember seeing it with honey -- interesting choice. If using it in its natural state doesn't appeal, use it in cooking other meats, tied or wrapped around to provide "basting" and moisture. It's sort of the same idea as using caul fat. (I remember having some aromatic little crepinettes at one of Daniel Patterson's places, all juicy from the caul fat used around them.) Good luck, and keep us informed about what you do next!

cookiecrumb said...

Denise: I have a couple of ideas. Or, if it still appalls me, dumperonie.

Zoomie: Yeah, the texture issue was a deal breaker. I'm stalwart; I'll experiment.

Kudzu: The honey was a little throwaway idea I swiped from a tiny piece on new restaurants and how much they can charge for elevated pedestrian food. Thought it was NYT, but couldn't find it.
Thanks for all the fat ideas. I've had crepinettes with caul fat; boy does that stuff spatter when you cook it. The slab of lardo is much thicker. If my other ideas fail, I'm thinking of just making a skillet of minced cracklings.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

I'm the gagging queen and have a thing about many food textures but lardo was no problem. See-through thin, cut by a master, it was like butter.
BUT, I'm betting teenywee cubes made all crisp with heat would be absolutely fabulous!

Shine said...

It looks so beautiful with the dabs of glistening honey. When you said you were going to try heat, I immediately thought of mushrooms. Let us know what direction you take, if you feel like it. What fun!

Greg said...

Never tried it but have watched people on TV oh and ah over the stuff. By your description I don't even want to be in the same room with it.

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: You have confirmed my suspicions. I got a bad chunk. I think it still has skin attached; that's why we couldn't even bite through it. I want what you had!

Shine: You are such a dear for seeing my predicament in the best light. I am buoyed with hope.

Greg: This simply must be a bad specimen. It's supposed to be smooth and heavenly.

Chilebrown said...

I have not tried Lardo yet. You never revealed your sourse. Did you buy it on the corner from the local Marin Lardo/Orange venodor? Why does Anthony Bourdain swoon when ever he eats Lardo?

cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: I guess I should reveal my source. It's Boccalone, right over there on the corner next to the orange vendor and the needle exchange guy.
I'm determined to have another look at it to see what went wrong.
(I'm reading Bourdain's new book; loving it. Thanks for a good recommendation.)

Indie.Tea said...

I don't eat pork (or beef) so I'd never eat lardo. You made it look nice with the herbs and all though :)

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Cookie, come on over, I know just where they serve it properly!

cookiecrumb said...

Indie.Tea: Aw, thanks. The herbs actually are part of the lardo presentation; I didn't do much. Sigh...

Mouse: Not Aria, is it? I wish you would tell. Oh, never mind. I'll be right over.

namastenancy said...

I have seen it at one of the stores at the Ferry Building but I haven't been tempted to buy (yet). Your less than stellar experience has made me even more cautious but I really shouldn't be. I've eaten food cooked in mutton fat which can be some of the most strong tasting fat around, especially if it came from the tail of an old sheep (fat from the tail is - or was - considered a real delicacy in some parts of the Middle East).

cookiecrumb said...

Nancy: Yeah, I've seen pictures of those sheep with the huge tails on WHEELS!
Anyway, my mishap with the lardo surely must just be a mistake. Wahhh. I'd give it a try if I were you and so inclined.

Julia said...

Usually lurk but felt compelled to jump in. I've never bought a chunk of lardo and then put it on bread or anything, but I've eaten lardo at restaurants before. I've always been served it as a very thin (paper thin) bit draped over something warm so it softens. It does taste wonderful, and I've never had an issue with texture. Maybe try shaving it?

cookiecrumb said...

Hey, Julia: Thanks for delurking, and your suggestion. The end we tried cutting was unshaveable. Truly, I was aiming for that transparent, wilting leaf of lardo, but we couldn't even cut through with a knife. I'm certain there's still skin attached. Will search the other side now. Thanks.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Aria NON, it's Coast actually, we'll have starters, with the lardo, there then get a water taxi across to Blackwattle Bay for a fishy main course!

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: Water taxi! You live in a movie. What fun.

Kate said...

Playing catchup with m blog reading. Sorry I'm late to the party. Hope you haven't dumperonied it yet. I love paper thin lardo slices laid atop a pizza just as it goes into the oven. Decadent!

I suggest you view it as butter in another way - something to cook other things in. Cut it into lardons, melt it down, crisp it up and start those onions and garlic. I'm more and more persuaded these days by the claim that pork fat was THE authentic cooking fat in Italy, rather than olive oil or butter.

cookiecrumb said...

Kate: Howdy. Yeah, at this point I'm thinking of salvaging the hunk by using it as fat. I love your theory of the Original Fat. Thank god for animals, and I'm having a BLT for lunch today!
(Lardo pizza. I just wet myself.)