When it comes to fats used in cooking, you might have heard both of the words “lard” and “lardo” thrown around. Are they the same thing? Maybe you already know that lard is just fat, but what is lardo in cooking?
Lard and lardo are not the same thing. Lardo is cured fat and comes specifically from fatback. Read on to learn more.
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What’s the Difference Between Lard and Lardo?
Lard is simply the fat from an animal, usually a pig. It’s pork fat that’s been separated from the meat, and chilled to make it solidified.
This makes it easy to use in cooking. The fat gets rendered during cooking, where it melts and adds richness and depth of flavor to the dish.
On the other hand, lardo is pork fat that’s been cured with salt. It can also be cured with spices and herbs. Once lardo has been cured, it’s aged in boxes anywhere from a few months to even years.
Instead of being cooked into dishes like lard, lardo is served in slices and eaten as is (more on this below).
What Part of the Pig Does Lardo Come From?
Lardo is fatback, which is fat taken from the back of a pig.
This is another distinction from lard, which doesn’t necessarily have to come from pigs and also can come from a different part of the animal (like the belly).
What Does Lardo Taste Like?
The curing and aging process removes all of the moisture from lardo, leaving it with a greasy and silky texture. It has an intensely rich, buttery, slightly sweet, umami flavor.
The flavor can vary, depending on the spices and herbs used during the curing process. Common spices and herbs used to flavor lardo include black pepper, garlic, rosemary, sage, oregano, cinnamon, and anise.
How Do You Use Lardo?
Lardo has been used for hundreds of years in Italian cuisine, mainly as an added treat on a charcuterie board.
As mentioned before, lardo isn’t traditionally cooked into dishes. Instead, it’s sliced thin and added to charcuterie boards to be enjoyed alongside various meats, cheeses, and olives. It can also be used as a garnish.
Beyond its traditional use, lardo can be rendered to create a delicious, buttery spread on bread. You can also cook it into sauces, potatoes, or fry with it.
Lardo is a true cured “meat” delicacy, and definitely isn’t something to be confused with regular lard. Hopefully this article helped you to understand what lardo is!