Not overly piggy, not cloyingly fatty or greasy, just pure and elegant and deeply sensual. Supper club host James Ramsden on the virtues on lardo. He shares a delicious recipe for whipped lardo served with jalapenos which make for wonderful pre-dinner nibbles.
The first time lardo swam into my ken was in Bill Buford’s superb book Heat. If you’ve never read it then you must, you must. Buford spends a year retracing the formation of chef Mario Batali’s career, traveling to Italy to work in a butcher, doing a stage in his restaurant, chopping his fingers off, and so on, writing about it in a witty and beguiling way.
Early in the book he meets Batali at a night of Bacchanalian excess in New York. The chef, red faced and rotund, is moving around the party asking guests to stick out their tongues, whereupon there he places a thin sliver of pearly white cured pig fat – lardo – which melts away to nothing.
“I need to get me some of this,” I thought. It’s marvellous stuff. Not overly piggy, not cloyingly fatty or greasy, just pure and elegant and deeply sensual. Beyond thinly slicing it and draping it over anything you might fancy eating, my friend and culinary collaborator Sam
suggested chopping it up and bunging it in a blender. You then blitz it until it turns into this creamy, cloud-like mass.
The pickled jalapenos might seem too bullish on their own, but miraculously the soft pig fat and crunchy toast beat them into submission. These will be the finest pre-dinner nibbles you ever make. Promise.
Whipped lardo on Toast with Pickled Jalapenos
Makes 15-or-so toasts
small clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp white wine vinegar
pinch of sea salt
For the pickled jalapenos
150ml white wine vinegar
3 heaped tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
a handful of jalapenos, thinly sliced
Cut the lardo into cubes, discarding the skin if any, and put in a blender with the garlic, vinegar and salt. Blitz for a few minutes until light and creamy.
Refrigerate until needed.
Put the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes, take off the heat and add the chillies. Set aside.
To serve, make some toast, spread with lardo, and top with a few pickled chillies.
Inspired? For more delicious canape recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.