Who knew this would be so simple and delightful! It is called lardo battuto
, which means literally beaten lard. Not the sort you find in a block in the supermarket, and in fact never heated at all, but salted and cured lard-o pounded in a mortar with garlic and parsley. I just happened to find a casing filled with cured fat in the back of the cave. I must have made it this past winter. I became familiar with this kind of lardo (in print) through my old friend Bartolomeo Scappi, personal chef to Pope Pius V in the 16th century. He uses it in stuffings especially, and anywhere some extra fat and flavor can be used. Apparently in Italy it gets tossed into soup and stews. OH YES. I tried it on toast this morning, and let me tell you: imagine compound butter, but cured pig instead. Aromatic, unctuous, dizzying. Thanks to Miss Butter who prompted this line of inquiry. It's a thing I should have done years ago. Now let's just think where this might go. Maybe a dollop on a pork chop? For some odd reason I want to stuff a fish with it. Scappi must have done it. Bread crumbs, cheese and lardo battuto. I couldn't have come up with anything that magnificent.
Words fail. Talk about a new holiday tradition.
You wax truth and poetry, Ken. I am blown away, your words are mine (with accreditation). So many things combined there, the essence of physical life itself. Just think! All of life rendered down into one Lardo Battuto. Ya can't help but love it.
Sharon, I honestly wish you were here right now to share it with.
I can't help but think that this would be heaven in a fresh grilled trout... or a colbert sole –– instead of the butter use the lardo (with herbs and a spoon of demi-glace) Died and gone to heaven. Love your discoveries.
PS about the Bernini... one of my favorites so I just had to stick it in there when St Teresa came up ... so alive and rapturous!
Belly fat? Sounds lovely.
No, I think it was back fat. I bought it at Corti Bros in Sac, so it may have been Mangalitsa too. Normally I just buy pork belly at the Asian grocery store here in Stockton.
Oh, heaven! I can't wait to try out the wild herb version. Wild oregano and onion? Or how about queen anne's lace fruit (parsley-carroty-citrusy)?
it's very nice to see Americans having interest in our ancient italian cuisine. Thank you so much!
I would permit myself to explain better this simple dish, still eaten in the area where i live (the golden triangle of the italian cuisine, between Parma, Cremona and Mantova).
This is a popular or lower class dish; once common, now only served in some restaurants as appetizer, or made in some families for a rich meal. The dialectal name here is "gras pistà" (beaten fat).
It is made of lard, with some flavours added, that is: garlic, parsley, crystals of salt, cutted fresh rosemary, and crushed juniper berries.
The only use from the Renaissance until now is to place a spoon of it over a slice of hot polenta (made the day before) which is fried in butter, or grilled just a moment before.
Serve it as an appetizer, and forget your cholesterol ;)
PS: you may prepare it with only garlic, salt and parsley, and use as fat to fry a chopped onion as a base for vegetable soups or ragouts. But then you should go hoeing the fields!
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