Search Results for: Lardo

Lardo in the larder

I bloody love lardo; the way it melts onto your tongue almost before you put it into your mouth, the fat hit and flavours as it slips down the throat. I must order me some, soon. I’d written a little bit about it in this post back in 2017. Today, I came across this picture of lardo di Arnad being stored in a chestnut-wood box. It’s a thing of deep & wondrous beauty…

Lardo

© Fool Magazine 2013

It’s simply made, from pork belly fat (read that again, PORK. BELLY. FAT) cured in rock-salt, rosemary, coriander seeds and black pepper for a period of  around 6 months. Then served, equally simply as paper-thin slices on unsalted rye bread. An Italian man called Bonin, from the Aosta Valley slaughters just 3 pigs a year to make only around 30kg of this delight, which apparently has a delicate aroma of tannins from the wood. The boxes he hand makes during the long, cold, snowy, winter months, in his agriturismo, high up close to the Alps.

I wouldn’t mind this in my larder. If I had a larder. More on larders here.

That’s it for today, folks, just a quick teaser on the tongue.

5 weeks prep, 5 minutes to devour

I’ve talked about the delights of lardo in various pieces on this site before.

This recipe below (which needs approx. 5 weeks to prepare) comes via Ollie Dabbous. I’ve absolutely no desire whatsoever to eat as his place, Hide

Hide restaurant

@Evening Standard

…which is an obscenely over the top temple to, frankly, bile inducing pretentious, haute cuisine allied to an uncanny ability to extract obscene amounts of cash from gullible punters’ pockets.

It’s why the interiors of all the rich mansions you see are stuffed with the most hideous fucking tat. “More gold”, “more marble”, “more dark wood” seems to be the callout to their designer. And the designer just adds a few more zeros to the bill. As do the chefs of the Dabbous & Keller school of cuisine.

Remember, Belcampo’s meat isn’t organic or local, The Willows uses Costco chicken, Thomas Keller uses Hormel ham, BUT people will still continue patronising their businesses because it’s all about perception. These businesses sell superiority. They are adept at making the consumer feel superior to working class, BIPOC people. And that quite frankly sucks.

All that said, this recipe tickled my taste buds. I aim to try this when I can find a reliable (read: local and known) source for the pork fat.

 

Caked in blood

Many, many years ago, after drinking rather more than was sensible and coming out from the warm fug of the local village pub into the shock of the freezing cold winter air, I managed to head-dive into a flint wall situated just outside.

This left me with 1. large quantities of blood coursing from the head wound and 2. a bright, multi-coloured, really rather obvious bruise on the left hand side of my face. This damage slowly cleared over the next couple of weeks. All good here, you’d think? Yes. Until I did the same thing again. This time, the almost identical damage was inflicted on the right hand side. It rather confused people.

Sorry Mum & Dad. I rather put you through things at times didn’t I?

I’d not say I was a pretty sight; but my head didn’t look this bad, that’s for sure.

A pig's head

And in a possibly vain attempt to tie the title into this piece — having already talked about this food-stuff very recently — here’s another recipe for Blood Cake, this time by the inimitable Fergus Henderson (probably the original zero waste hero chef) I’ve referenced before, courtesy of a piece in Port Magazine, with photos by Jack Orton:

1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A large dollop of duck fat
Half a bunch of marjoram – pick the leaves off & chop finely
2.5g crushed mace
2.5g tsp crushed allspice
1 litre of fresh pig’s blood
50g yellow cornmeal (polenta)
Sea salt and black pepper
250g back fat (salted lardo will suffice), cut into 5mm cubes

In a pan large enough to take all the ingredients, sweat the onions and garlic in the duck fat until clear, soft and giving, but not brown. Remember: this can take a long time. Don’t rush it. Add the marjoram, spices, blood and cornmeal, and stir on a gentle heat until the blood starts to thicken to a running porridge consistency (do not let it cook and set).

Blood cake in the pan

It has to have density or the back fat will sink to the bottom when added. At this point, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and when happy remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped back fat.

Blood cake ready for the oven

Stir to spread the fatty chunks through the blood and decant the mixture into the cling-film-lined bread tin. Cover with tinfoil and place on a flat folded tea towel in a deep roasting tray or dish. Surround with water (not going over the edge of the bread tin) and bake in a gentle to medium oven for one and a half hours. Check that a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean, then remove and allow to cool and set (wrapped in cling film it keeps very well in the fridge). Once firm, to serve, cut into 12mm thick slices.

And one last (over-)head shot. Josh Niland with his John Dorry breakdown. I continue to read and find huge inspiration in his “The Whole Fish” book.

Josh Niland with John Dorry breakdown

Belt up! The Siena Cinta; more heritage taste.

Highlighted by my reading of a piece in Aliza Green’s wonderful “The Butcher’s Apprentice”, I came across yet another — heretofore unknown to me — of those great, autochthonous, heritage breeds, the Cinta Senese (named after the white “belt” or “sash” that runs across its shoulders, sides and front legs and traditionally from “Siena”) pigs who even now are allowed (no, actually, are required) to run around as free-ranging animals in those still extensive Tuscany woodlands.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti (the “Buon Governo” or “good governance”) fresco 1337; installed in the Palazzo Comunale in Siena’s Piazza del Campo

The breed, one of only 6 native ones to survive in Italy, is thought to have originally been brought into the country via Phoenician traders — maybe as long ago as 1,500 BCE — and then (as pigs are always eager to do) they mixed with the native wild boar, the cinghiale, that still thrive to this day in the region. This lovely black pig has the sturdy limbs, the long ears to cover and thus protect its eyes from low hanging branches and that long, tough (yet delicate*) snout that we see in those animals that still root around in the woodland.

© Renieri PROSCIUTTO TOSCANO DOP RENIERI

The traditional herd-book had been established in the early 1930s but this fell into disuse and was discontinued in the 1960s. Up until this time then, it had been a popular pig, tough, self-sufficient, ideal for the traditional small-holding family but slowly, after WWII, eating fashions were being changed and faster growing, cheaper, alternatives took over and, in a similar manner to all our heritage breeds around the world, by the 1990s, it was considered to be on the critical list.

* Despite constant rough use, the snout remains, in the words of one pig observer, “art-gum-eraser tender,” as sensitive and finely tuned as a safecracker’s fingertips. Mark Essig, “Lesser Beasts”.

 

But then along came the Slow Food movement — which noteworthily originated in Tuscany — and with it, a concrete desire to plan to ensure the survival of these types of species. The herd-book was re-opened in 1997; kept by the Associazione Nazionale Allevatori Suini, the Italian national association of pig breeders. And although the population remains low and is still classified as endangered, since then, thanks to their work, they’ve succeeded in reversing this decline such that by the end of 2012 there were 2543 pigs registered, distributed over some 111 farms. And again, like so many of the heritage breeds, since 2006 it’s protected under EU DOP (“Protected designation of origin”) status.

To keep this classification, they can only be fed using a combination of what they obtain through their own woodland rooting, along with carefully controlled supplements of pelletted cereals — these have to be guaranteed free from all GMOs. Like the pata negra, like the Ossabaw and the Euskal Txeriia, even the old English Huntingdon Black Hog breed, there they get to eat chestnuts and acorns from the cerro or quercus cerris, a Southern European native oak (also known as bitter oak or turkey oak) and wild broad beans [fava beans — shades of Hannibal there…].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The piglets are certified just after birth and are then ear tagged; listing their genetic background which process carries through into the meat which also all carries a plastic band to similarly certify the product’s origin thus giving full traceability, all the way back to the original animal.

They’re butchered at 24 months, by which time they’ll weigh between 120 and 150 kilos [260-330 lbs], whereas ‘ordinary’ pigs reach 150 kilograms after only eight months. This meat then goes on to produce those products typical of Tuscany, including salami, finocchiona (delightfully heavy with fennel), sausages, of course, pork loin, bacon, capocollo (or coppa), lardo di colonnata and, of course, prosciutto — the latter adding at least another two years to the wait for all of this mouth watering delight. You can understand why it was rightly named Slow Food…

And on that note it seems apposite to quote

“If you put good things in it, it’ll taste good”. Business card of baker Caroline Rozgaj Kobe, Sugar Creek, Missouri.

And finally, a reminder that the fascists have always been with us and we need to always keep resisting them. Every day. Everywhere. This pointer to what a little shit he was comes from the National Archives:

“Sir Oswald Mosley charged with causing unnecessary suffering to pigs”

This file relates to a case brought against Sir Oswald Mosley which was eventually dismissed. Mosley wrote to the Lord Chancellor on 10 December 1945 to ask that the magistrate who heard the case should retract what he considered to be unjustified observations made in open court after the case against him was dismissed. The Kingsclere magistrate, Lt Colonel Kingsmill had heard evidence that Mosley’s boar, two fat pigs and 95 store-pigs were emaciated and living in filthy conditions.  The magistrate, in his closing remarks, suggested that although he was dismissing the case, he felt that Mosley should have been aware of the state the pigs were in and taken steps to ensure they were properly fed and housed. Mosley wrote to the Lord Chancellor demanding that the magistrate retract his observations in open court.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose