If there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s disappearing off my blog for inordinate amounts of time. Whoops. This time I do have a good reason, though – I moved house! Yep, I’m finally out and free of the bedbug-ridden hell hole I was stuck in for a year and am in a lovely little place in SE London with two (new) friends. We’ve been slowly setting up the house (my current project is attempting to build us a coffee table as we didn’t like anything that was available on the market) and it’s coming together, slowly but surely (I still have two boxes to unpack as I don’t have a desk/home office yet). Pretty soon I’ll be able to share some photos but for the time being I’m going to leave you with this oldie but goodie – chilli whipped lardo.
I first made this dish last September and gave a tiny pot of it to my friend Danny. The last time I’d had whipped lardo I was in New York with Ken and Margaret at Blue Hill for dinner (which, by the way, is a fabulous restaurant – you should go if you’re ever in New York). At the beginning of the meal we were presented with three pots of various spreads, one of which was lardo, which upon announcement prompted a very Homer Simpson-esque, “mhmmm, laaaardoooo…” from me, causing the waiter to laugh and declare that I was a girl who “knew her lardo”. In any other context I may have been offended, in this one I was just hungry.
Making whipped lardo is pretty easy, the only thing I’d recommend is investing in a meat grinder – you can find various decent ones online – because otherwise you’re going to be chopping it up by hand for rather a long time.
But perhaps we should backtrack – what is lardo and, more specifically, why on earth would you want to “whip it”? Lardo is a type of charcuterie which basically consists of cured, salted pig fat. Doesn’t that sound incredibly appetising? Don’t poo-poo it – it totally is. It’s usually cured with rosemary and various other herbs and spices but, if you want to be non-traditional, you can cure it with anything you fancy. Some people cure their lardo from scratch and if you do a Google search you can discover exactly how to do that, I actually stumbled across some ready cured lardo at my ex-local Italian deli and decided to have a play.
So what about “whipping”? You’re not literally going to whip it, you’re actually going to massage it, but the act of massaging the finely ground lardo with your hands (yep, we’re going to get all up in this piggy’s fatty bits) causes it to break down and give you the most smooth and light textured, delicious, spreadable piggy goodness. Honestly, screw cleanliness – I’m pretty sure piggy fat is close to godliness.
Really, we’re talking heart-attack in a pot here so I wouldn’t recommend it for daily consumption but as a once-in-a-while treat? Go ahead, make your day.
CHILLI WHIPPED LARDO
Makes 2 ramekins.
300g lardo, cut into smaller pieces
1 clove garlic
1-2 tsps cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp pomegranate balsamic vinegar
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste; I used chilli salt from Cornish Sea Salt, just to amp up the spice a little more, feel free to use regular sea salt)
Chilli flakes (optional)
Pestle & mortar
1. Pass the lardo through the meat grinder into a medium bowl until finely minced.
2. In the pestle and mortar, puree the garlic clove then add to the lardo mixture, along with the vinegar and cayenne pepper.
3. Massage the lardo with your fingers, incorporating air in – as you work with the lardo the heat of your hands will soften it, giving it a silky soft texture (a milking or massage action works best). Continue to massage the lardo until reaching the desired texture (it took me about 5-7 mins).
4. Add a fair bit of salt and black pepper, taste and re-season as necessary. Transfer into ramekins and sprinkle with chilli flakes (optional). Refrigerate until ready to eat, at which point remove from the fridge 10 mins before you want to serve (to allow to come to room temperature; will last for a week in the fridge).
5. Enjoy with warm crusty bread and feel the salty piggy goodness flooding your arteries.
Be back from new house setting-up soon, until then peace and love.