Friday, November 06, 2009

Food: Lardo; the real thing

I don't do a lot of food picture or recipe posting, others do this well and our eating is quite simple really. But just occasionally some thing very special comes along, this time as part of a beautiful food gift from a friend in Italy to a beleaguered lipophile living in sucrose encrusted Glasgow... Many thanks!

This is Lardo. It's a bit like bacon, but not bacon as we know it... Possession is a criminal offence in both the USA and Finland but this appears to have been decriminalised in Sweden, which suggests that possession of small quantities, without intent to supply.....




The pig skin is there, as is a sliver of salted panniculus muscle. The two are separated by backfat. Lots of backfat. The meat end is encrusted in cracked black pepper and herbs.



I cut off about half a centimetre. Dry fried it to get the opaque fat transparent and that was breakfast.



Anyone in Italy will know how good it is. Now I do too.

Many many thanks (you know who!)

Peter

50 comments:

Bris said...

My former landlord lived on a farm in Austria on the 1950s. Breakfast was about 200g piece of boiled speck (lardo without the herbs) and a boiled potato. He said it allowed him to work hard all day without feeling hungry.

My preferred breakfast is 250ml of whole cream - 87g (59g saturated) of fat.

Peter said...

Yes, the cream is close to my breakfast when I don't do eggs (or Lardo).

Peter

lightcan said...

Wow, that's not smoked, is it?
Have you tried smoked back fat, cold from the fridge with red onions? I'm from Romania and every winter, when I was a child my family (grand parents) would cut their pig and give some to everybody in the family. Loads of smoked sausages, bacon, meat, all kinds of pig in jelly. Yummy. That was 30 years ago and it's gone, for me anyway. I didn't like the ears though. And then we used to go camping as teenagers and take that fat with us and roast on the fire and then put all that fat on bread. Ok, I know, bread is the basis of the poor shepherd's food. Not so much when he is on the mountain with his sheep for weeks.
I was so happy when the Romanians that live here close to me gave me a litte slab of smoked fat brought from home. I relished a bit of it every day. Yes, next best thing is a pot of organic creme fraiche and a big spoon.

Peter said...

This one's not smoked (comment about being eaten here, suppressed with difficulty!), I wouldn't be in the least surprised to find there was a smoked version...

Peter

lightcan said...

Oh, sorry, as we're talking about food, does anybody know how to cook chicken hearts? I had some last night with onions, peppers and paprika but they were a bit hard. Do they need a lot of cooking or just a little like the liver? I don't have any recipes in the books I own and I only remember eating them when I was small.

MahaTar said...

I've seen wet dreams of this kind of food!

Bris said...

Lightcan the chicken hearts would be tough because of overcooking. I would cook them the same ways as chicken livers.

lightcan said...

Right, I'll try it differently. Input appreciated. Somewhere on the internet it said boil for two hours, that's why I had the doubts.

aurelia.donka said...

Want!

scrivereconlaluce said...

hello from Italy
you must try "lardo di Colonnata" - that is THE BEST

Peter said...

This is good for lambs hearts but might work with chicken hearts...

Cut the hearts in to slices/rings and marinade in lemon juice for half an hour (longer if you like), saving two slices from the lemon. Fry the heart with some onions, add a bayleaf and 100ml dry cider, place in a casserole, cover with as much cooking apple as you feel you need carbs from. Sprinkle with crushed corriander seeds. Lay on a couple of slices from the lemon on top. Add just enough stock to just cover, put a well fitting lid on it and oven cook for about an hour. Open it up, bin the lemon slices and bay leaf. Serve. Add extra carbs if needed. Chips are nice. Add some butter somewhere! Salt and pepper too if you want.

Peter

Peter said...

Scrivereconlaluce,

So much to try...

Peter

caphuff said...

looks like in the US the lardo prohibition has been repealed ;)

It can be got in NYC Chelsea Market at www.buonitalia.com.

Eric said...

Hi Peter
Seeing as you're talking about food, this post won't be *completely* OT ... what is an appropriate substitute for fresh cream? Originally I'm Australian (fresh cream at every corner shop), but now I live in Hong Kong, which means UHT cream with carageenan ... really, I don't want to eat that stuff every day. (You really can buy nearly anything on earth in HK with great convenience ... except fresh cream. It's a major omission.)
I'm trying to make do with butter and lamb. Unfortunately I seem to have omega-6 issues with pork (the only really economical animal fat that is readily available locally).
Thanks for the excellent blog.

Peter said...

Hi Eric,

I struggled with this one, mostly out of curiosity about how easy it would be to go more fully paleo. It's hard! I tried ghee or coconut oil in my cocoa but they don't hit the spot the way cream does. For me, I think I'm casein addicted anyway, so that may colour my outlook!

No easy answer, open to suggestions. Has to be reasonably easy too as it's bulk calories I guess...

Peter said...

Caphuf,

Wow! They'll be legalising egg yolks next!

team smith said...

i'm confused about why this part of the pig would be a criminal offense in the US. it's not raw milk.

also, how does one determine what percentage of fat their cream has if it doesn't say on the bottle? i get really thick -like i have to spoon it out of the jar- cream from the local farm, but then i also get vat-pasturized cream that is a lot thinner from the store.

mark said...

Same breakfast here Monday to Sunday regarding 250mL cream. 8 egg yolks is a 9pm second dinner thing.

Food lardo looks yummy, I've just never seen anything like it in the butchers.

Mark.

kimberly-birch said...

I'm jealous! Next time I'm in Italy I'm going to seek this out!

Captain Mikee said...

Is lardo also eaten raw?

Perhaps it would be easier to give up cocoa than dairy, Peter.

Daniel said...

Peter,
That looks delicious. Though a lipophile myself, I normally avoid pig fat in excess due to relatively high omega 6 content.

I've noticed that you seem to have avoided jumping on the omega 6 is evil bandwagon. Any reason for that?

I ask because on a high-fat diet, I find it difficult to achieve a more equal 3/6 ratio without taking lots of fish oil (which I don't want to do). Eating lardo (as amazing as it is) would be hard to balance out...

Juha said...

"Possession is a criminal offence in both the USA and Finland"

Maybe, but it is very easy to smugle to Finland across the Russian border similar products from Russia, like "salo" (= pure salted pig fat).

Peter said...

Peter hangs head in shame for suggesting that Lardo may not be street legal in the USA or Finland!

BTW Juha, salo sounds useful, but does it taste as good as Lardo? But then does that matter if the alternative is margarine?!


Daniel,

There are suggestions that psychosocial stress is a serious cause of heart disease. I try and minimise this by not stressing too much! I can aim for perfection or get on and enjoy my Lardo with it's moderately elevated omega 6 ratio... Stress-not seems like a good idea to me! My rule of thumb is make sure there is a little DHA available and don't swamp it with vegetable oil. I did do lots of calculations years ago to see what amount of fish oil might be ideal. I ended up at 5g/d but I certainly wouldn't regard this as any sort of ultimate truth. Quite possibly completely wrong...

Peter

Peter said...

Team, I don't know of any way to tell cream composition unless the people putting it in the container tell you what they've done. You might get the info or something close from http://www.nutritiondata.com/ but beyond that...

Captain Mikee, I doubt there would be any problem from eating it raw but it's not my approach.

It's too close to call between dairy and cocoa in terms of addiction. Cocoa has all those disgusting antioxidants so logic says this is the worst... But it's a big hook!

Peter

Daniel said...

Peter,
I think that's a very good point. I find that trying to perfect my diet does come at the cost of some sleeplessness... Whether the potential ill effects of extra omega 6's outweigh the potential ills of sleeplessness, I don't know.

Maybe, I'll pay homage to your easier-going attitude and eat the shit out of some bacon tonight...

dario said...

Whoa! That's... unusual! You're not really supposed to have it that way :-) (though it surely was delicious, it almost gave me a coronary just by looking at it). Try it raw, in very thin slices on piping hot toasted bread, best of all on rustic bread. The heat from the toast does all the job. Or, you can finely mince it and use as a substitute for oil in preparing some pasta sauces, to wrap fowl before baking it in the oven, or wrapped around freshly grilled, shelled prawns, or...

scrivereconlaluce said...

everybody in the UK can order Italy's best lardo, called Lardo di Colonnata (a tiny village in Toscana)
here

http://www.nifeislife.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=colonnata&Search=Search

enjoy!! :-)

TuulisMumma said...

That´s delicious!

We just bought half a pig from a farm and I asked fatty one.
Its not bossible here in Finland to by laard, so I made it myself.
As a child it was substitute to butter... sometimes.
And that backfat with skin is my favorite!
Greetings...Windmill

Bris said...

Eric you can make cream the traditional way (homogenised or UHT milk also work):

- gently simmer 2 litres of milk for 15 minutes in a saucepan. DO NOT BOIL.

- remove from the stove and cool

- when cool refrigerate overnight

- skim cream from the surface. You will get about half a cup of extra thick cream (40-50% fat).

The heating denatures the protein which keeps the milk fat in emulsion. The cream then floats to the surface

Nostril Damus said...

Hi guys

This may be a stupid question but:

Do you object to UHT cream because of the taste or because the UHT process makes it unhealthy ?

Anna said...

team smith,

In the US, food regulations determine the minimum percentage butterfat that must be contained for the product to be legally labeled "cream". Most of the "cream" found in supermarkets will just barely meet this minimum butterfat content (and often be thickened with carrogeenan or other gums to make up for the thin and unstable/poor whipping performance). Conventional dairy processing is very precisely controlled these days, and involves separating the bulk milk into various components of butterfat, protein, milk solids, water content, etc.) and recombining them in standardized ratios that create maximum profit. Consequently, despite the public perception that milk and cream are relatively unprocessed foods, the majority of supermarket dairy products are heavily handled and processed.

Restaurants and food manufacturers have access to a higher % butterfat cream, which performs and tastes better, especially when whipped. It is sometimes possible to find this higher butterfat cream in some specialty stores, such as Trader Joe's (40% cream) or restaurant supply markets. After years of buying reasonably priced TJs 40% cream without ultra-pasteurization, added gums and preservatives, etc., it's always an annoyance to buy crappy cream when I need to buy cream while away from home.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream

The raw cream I can buy in California is extremely thick, though quite expensive. The raw milk I buy has all the cream still in it and is not standardized to 3.5% butterfat like most "whole" milk - it is truly whole and the butterfat content can reach as high as 8% at some times of the year. Seasonal variations in the creamline occur both in amount and in color (more cream and more of a creamy betacarotene yellow color when the pasture is growing rapidly and lushly). Cream skimmed off the raw milk is quite thick, too.

Bris said...

Anna:

Dairy products are not highly processed at all. In fact they undergo very little processing at all.

The only processing steps are:

1. pasteurisation to kill pathogens

2. centrifugation to separate the fat and liquid components. These are then recombined to provide a standard product. This is necessary because each batch of milk is obtained from thousands of individual cows. It is a legal requirement to provide a standardised product and to provide an accurate nutritional label.

3. homogenisation to emulsify the milk and prevent separation.

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that processing substantially reduces the nutritional value of milk . However there is vast body of evidence showing that raw milk is potentially deadly.

The term "processed food" is utterly meaningless. It simply means the food as been altered in some way such as washing, peeling or cooking. Unless you eat raw meat and unwashed vegetables straight from the ground you are eating processed foods.


- 20 years experience as a food scientist.

Anagarika said...

Nice jumping Peter. Hi I am Claudio from Rome, Italy and you have discovered something that we know very well here in Italy, appreciate and eat.
We have lots of kinds of Lardo, very very tasteful and top of the chart.
The most famous is 'Lardo di Colonnata' , but we many others.
I change every time I go to the shop. Lots of people eat it and love it even though they are not low-carber like you and me.
Bravo.

O Primitivo said...

The SUN say's "the average Brit chomps through 2,200 250gram PACKS of killer saturated fats in their lifetime". http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/article2228936.ece

Heike said...

I'm German and speck is well known in my mum's kitchen! Yum. Also different types of lard which is put into little pots and flavoured with herbs and eaten on a slice of bread, traditionally during long parties at around midnight.

On a lighter note: I weighed myself this morning and got a shock. Lost about 4kgs following an easy-peasy high-fat eating plan that neither cost me more nor was a pain to put together. Just like that! I weighed that little before, but ONLY after stringent diets that left me wiped out.

I feel so good and well-nourished that it was a big surprise to see the numbers. I think it's the mental well-being that is the biggest positive side effect of eating high-fat. I sleep like a baby and always feel full. Brilliant!

Peter said...

Hi Bris,

The processing of food is a complex subject. If we are going to go beyond raw wild animals and weeds we have to accept food processing.

Whenever a new arthritis drug is put on the market I immediately rush to allow other clinicians to use it for a year before leaving the devils I know, to embrace the newest drug on the block. I look the gifts of big pharma in the mouth before accepting. BTW some are useful.

Holding a piece of raw meat over a fire seems to have stood the test of time, possibly for a few million years. I'm comfortable with that.

Folks have been letting milk ferment in it's commensal bacteria for a few thousand years and I don't really see there being issues with that. Many fermented milk based societies make claims towards extended longevity, certainly none come with the short maximum life expectancy suggested by the mummies of the Egyptian grain based societies.

Refrigeration is relatively new but I see little potential for harm here. We are just on the end of an ice age so frozen food will have been around as a Winter thing for some time.

UHT cream is something I would rather leave others to play with and I'd be happy to accept it as food when it has stood the test of time for a few thousand years... It might the the bees' knees, it might not.

No one would enjoy a bout of campylobacter from raw milk. No one would enjoy dying from E coli O157 from a raw spinach salad. I can accept pasteurisation as a protection from a filthy food chain but I still feel it is a rather new kid on the block, and it certainly seems a poor second to cleaning up the food chain. Practically I would have to agree that it is difficult to see how it differs from boiling a source of dairy in a cream sauce. The one concern I would have is that pasteurised milk is a bulk source of partially denatured yet highly biologically active proteins which may not break down to inactive peptides as they should during digestion. The law of mass action may apply and we are possibly talking bulk supply compared to a cream sauce. I would agree this concern is hypothetical and might be nice to test but I live in a world were raw milk is not available on a practical basis anyway. If I owned a house cow I would not be pasteurising its milk.

I too think we have to be careful about terms as general as processed. No one but the AHA would consider commercial sunflower oil as a food. Even before it is converted to yellow boot polish. But I eat doner kebabs with relish. Both are processed.



Anagarika and Heike, Fat is good! No wonder sensible people still like it!

O Primitivo! This is a hopelessly inadequate amount! It's under 22g/d! No wonder we are so sick as a society! More !!!!! Frightening, as the Sun runs the government here in the UK... if that wasn't frightening enough in itself (jk, well, semi jk anyway)

Peter

JustJoeP said...

Why is it illegal anywhere?

Peter said...

I'm assured it causes heart disease. Just ask the AHA.

P

Anna said...

Isn't lardo is salt cured and technically still "raw"? That's probably why there are restrictions on lardo sales and imports in some places, similar to restrictions on sale/importation of raw fresh cheese, etc.

Cathy said...

From Eades' blog, here's a photo of thinly sliced lardo served on bread or toast, as Dario described. Scroll down thru photos of a feast they enjoyed in Tuscany for the photo.
http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/uncategorized/a-tuscan-feast/

LeenaS said...

Actually, there is ONE advantage for those living in the lipophobic Finland: free lard. I just rendered several kilos of it, from an organic source, given to me by people who wanted the meat but not the fat.

It smells as delicious as it tastes.

Peter said...

Hi Anna, I'm really sorry. It was a very poor taste joke. As far as I know Lardo is not illegal in Finland or the USA and the decrimialisation in Sweden is an unfounded rumour...

LeenaS, glad to hear you can get it. Once we get a life back up here I shall go chasing suet to render down again...

Cathy and Dario, these would be nice sensible recipes (without the bread, anyway) but the Lardo is an excellent source of bulk calories rather than gourmet food, though the taste is still gourmet and it melts in the mouth even in bulk...

Peter

Aaron Blaisdell said...

Me wanna go there! (hat tip to 30 Rock).

I'm with Anna on the raw milk/cream front. Living in LA, I have access at Whole Foods to raw milk and raw cream sold there. It is delicious (especially in coffee or over berries) and I think it is relatively safe since it comes from small-production dairy farmers who seem to care about what they are doing.

shel said...

"I struggled with this one, mostly out of curiosity about how easy it would be to go more fully paleo".

jeez, i know what you mean, Peter. i had a tough time giving up dairy. nothing tastes as good in coffee as cream. i have it a couple of times a week. no sense making the perfect the enemy of the good.

but its easy to load fat into almost anything. i've got a bucket full of grassfed beef tallow i rendered myself (low heat). tastes pretty good in stuff.

i haven't yet been convinced that i need not be concerned about angiotoxic effects of cholesterol oxides. until i have been, i'll stick with low heat frying and leave the pasturized dairy (mostly) alone.

...uth? not a hope in hell.

Anna said...

It's been a busy weekend - I picked up my latest half bison order, tallied it and distributed it to some other people who wanted a small share. The ranch kids went into great detail telling me how they harvested the organs, tail, and kidney fat for me (the butcher won't do it because it isn't included in the hanging weight on which his fee is based).

Then today I picked up a bunch of venison, as well as black bear fat and meat (isn't having hunters in the family great?) from my sister's BIL, who just returned to So Cal from two weeks hunting in Upstate NY. I can't wait to render the bear fat and try it out. Nah, I won't try it raw.

Peter said...

Anna,

My main objection to the raw approach is the number of people who will not try it but would benefit immensely from real food with restricted carbs. It's hard enough to get people to dump sucrose, let alone eat raw meat.

The bear fat sounds very good. I've discovered that slicing the Lardo slightly thinner then bulking up with egg yolks is delicious. Mmmmmm.

Shel, I guess I'm living dangerously with my deep fried parsnips. Ah well!

Peter

keke jumaluus said...

"Why is it illegal anywhere?"

You can buy ok lardi meat from the black market.

Is it ok if i print that Ravnskov interview and set it on fire? Couse i just did..

Regards, keke of finland

Garlic Confit said...

Thinly sliced on poilane with cornichons...perfect lunch.

Христо Раднев said...

I eat 35 kg of this every year :)

Peter said...

I can think of far worse things to eat...

Peter