Whether you slice lardo into thin pieces and eat it raw or use it as an ingredient in another dish, you won’t be disappointed.
Due to its silky texture and delicious taste, it can be paired with vegetables, pastry, and other types of meat. Unfortunately, this cured pork product is generally hard to come by. Therefore, if you get a chance to acquire it, you should know how to eat lardo.
In this article, I’ll go through all the different ways you can prepare, cook, and eat lardo. I’ll also cover the best lardo dishes.
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Can You Eat Lardo As Is?
Lardo is a type of salumi, which is an Italian term for salted meat. Salumi refers to cured pork products, such as pancetta, salami, prosciutto, mortadella, and more.
Since lardo is cured, it lasts a long time and doesn’t require cooking to make it edible. In other words, you can eat it raw.
Lardo is an ingredient that’s generally hard to find in the United States. Instead, you can try looking for lardo in an Italian butcher or grocery shop or order it from an Italian wholesaler.
The best type of lardo comes from Italy, where it has been made for centuries. In fact, the tradition of making lardo started during Roman times in a village called Colonnata.
Even today, lardo is traditionally made in boxes made out of marble. Before the lardo is placed in the marble casings, they’re covered with a thin layer of garlic. Then, spices such as rosemary, oregano, sage, coriander, and more are added to enhance the flavor.
Although marble isn’t a prerequisite for making lardo, this method makes the taste more authentic. Note that it usually takes around half a year to cure this meat product properly.
The curing process results in a fine, delicate, and silky texture. Some even compare lardo’s texture to butter, as it literally melts in your mouth if the lardo is cut into thin slices.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find an adequate substitute for it because it possesses a distinctive flavor. However, it can replace bacon and pancetta, and if prepared correctly, bacon fat.
If you do plan on eating it raw, slice the lardo into thin pieces. Since lardo is slightly greasy, avoid eating huge chunks.
It can make a great addition to charcuterie boards, complementing other types of cured meat products, cheese, nuts, olives, and other vegetables.
You can even put it on toast or a pastry product for a quick yet delicious snack. Italians love including lardo on bruschetta.
Raw lardo can even be paired with strawberries, watermelon, blackberries, and plums for those who enjoy eating food with both sweet and salty flavors.
If you have some leftover lardo, put it in an air-tight bag or a sealed container, and keep it in your fridge.
Best Ways to Use Lardo in Cooking
There are several ways you can use lardo in cooking, especially if you want to prepare an Italian dish. However, lardo is rarely used as the main ingredient.
Instead, it’s added to the dish to complement other flavors, and it is best combined with different types of meat and vegetables. What’s more, it gives your dish the perfect finishing touch.
While lardo can be added to recipes, it can also be cooked, boiled, fried, and even be used as fat. Its butter-like texture is ideal for when melting and can be used instead of fat.
It’s perfect for cooking potatoes and other starchy vegetables. In addition, you can use it with meat, such as steaks and other meat products.
All you need to do is cut it into thin slices and place it alongside the steak. The lardo will melt and make the steak much softer.
Considering that lardo is 60% monounsaturated fat, it can be used instead of butter and spread over toast and pastry. Not to mention that it’s actually healthier than butter. However, it contains many calories, so you definitely shouldn’t consume it in large quantities.
Before it is cured, several ingredients are usually added to this pork product, giving it a rich umami flavor. It’s most commonly seasoned with rosemary. Other spices used to enhance the flavor of lardo include thyme, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, coriander, star anise, etc.
Sometimes, sweet spices can be added to lardo, such as cinnamon. The mixture of salty and sweet spices makes lardo an ingredient that can go almost anywhere.
If your lardo is too salty, place it in a saucepan and fill it up with cold water. Turn on your stove and leave the lardo there until the water boils. You can cook it for about 10 to 15 minutes. Afterward, drain the water and let the lardo dry.
Bake with It
Another interesting way to use lardo is by adding it to pastry dough.
You can do this by combining lardo cubes with flour. Mix them together until the mixture has a rougher texture.
What’s great about this is that lardo can be used for both sweet and salty pastry recipes. It’s an excellent ingredient for those who like to experiment with different flavors.
Best Dishes That Use Lardo
As mentioned before, you can use lardo to replace other pork cured products, such as bacon and pancetta. Therefore, you can use lardo for various dishes, from baked potatoes to different types of pizza.
It ultimately depends on whether you want to use lardo as a complementary ingredient or an element that will make your dish stand out.
The most common way to use lardo in a recipe is by adding thin-sliced raw pieces. For example, adding lardo would enhance the overall mixture of different tastes and textures if you want to make a charcuterie board.
Another popular option is to place lardo on bruschetta or toast. It blends perfectly with tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and garlic.
If you want to stick to Italian recipes, you can add your lardo to ziti pasta. Ziti is another name for Neapolitan macaroni. It’s made by adding lardo to garlic, onions, and tomatoes, all cooked together in a frying pan.
You can even make lardo pizza. This recipe is particularly popular in Rome. All you need to do is put largo on the dough, along with tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano, and various other spices.
You can also use lardo with steak, fillets, and even turkey. What’s more, Lardo makes a great addition to seafood like octopus, scallops, and clams.
Some people like to add lardo to sweet recipes since it can be paired with different types of fruit. In particular, it’s delicious drizzled in honey.
Lardo works best for appetizers and side dishes. For example, it can be roasted with almonds and olives. In Italy, people love to combine it with boiled chestnuts and honey. You can even whip it like cream, making it ideal for dinner rolls.
The question of how to eat lardo can be answered in various ways. That’s because there’s no limit to how you can prepare this cured pork delicacy.
You can serve it raw, spread it on toast, or cook it together with vegetables and other types of meat. No matter which recipe you choose, lardo is sure to enhance your dish.