Yesterday’s housecleaning binge took me down to the basement and into the chest freezer, and soon enough I was sidelined curing pork fatback, which is known as lardo every place without fat-phobia. I’ve been meaning to get on this one for weeks, since we’re about out of the original batch, which began curing in March.
That batch turned me into a fervent convert, a believer in the wonders my chef friend Evan promised it would deliver. Just a few thin slices give wonderful depth to sauces and soups, including New England specials like fish chowder. I’ve rendered it as cooking grease and found that when sauteed over slow heat with garlic and shallots, it contributes tremendous flavor. And the cure has only gotten better with age. It is so loved by my adventurous friends, who eat thin shavings right from the block, that I may have to give some away at Christmas. And it’s so embarrassingly simple that I’d keep the recipe secret, but I’m liable to forget what I did in the first place. So here it is:
1 lb pork fatback, a single piece is preferable / scant ¼ cup table salt / 3 tbls brown sugar / several grindings black pepper / 2 x 4″ sprigs rosemary, minced / 1 tbls minced fresh thyme / 1 bay laurel leaf, ground
Rinse fatback in cool water and and pat dry. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Coat fatback with cure mixture and wrap tightly in a plastic bag, then wrap bag in a sheet of newspaper (as light will degrade the fat). Weigh with a 5-pound weight and refrigerate. Lardo is ready to use in 4 to 6 weeks, or when the fat feels firm. Adapted from Evan Mallett.