Lardo - the White King cometh (and he bringeth indigestion)

Now that winter is really setting in; clocks back (unfortunately not the childrens internal body clocks), apocalyptic storms, end of days, I need thick warming tasty heavy dinners. Recently, my prayers were answered and I am the proud owner of a massive slab, ever diminishing, of Lardo della Apuane.  I’ve always enjoyed Lardo and this specimen is special, produced in the Apuane alps north of Pisa with all the characteristics of its more famous cousin and close neighbour Lardo di Colonnata IGP (the only difference is the spitting distance between the two production zones). The ingredients; big fatback (UK translation back fat from massive pigs), salt, pepper, rosemary and a proprietary herb & spice mix. The production method; a dry rub and 6 months rest in a marble coffin results in a savoury porcine dream which uplifts and enlivens almost all dishes. The "White King" as it is known locally, is underpinning my cooking, a bedrock of pure pig flavour on which my kitchen (and future chin) is currently built.

Lovely wife has begun to complain (gracefully and correctly) that pork permeates everything that emanates from the kitchen, even apple pie. Which is perfectly true and all the better for it. Due to its consistency my Lardo is rendered in a warm pan and used in place of butter or olive oil as a basis for most dishes and imbues a deep rich savour that would flick all Jay Rayner’s switches.  In the case of the filo apple pie in question the melted Lardo was brushed onto the sheets of filo instead of butter and the resulting pie was a triumph.

More conventionally Lardo is thinly sliced to top very warm bread over which it melts whilst emitting beautiful aromas becoming soft and yielding delivering up in a single burst a time stopping, pupil widening, riot of flavours. Fantastic draped over pizzas and fried polenta wedges, in fact anything hot, turning mysteriously translucent; a cloudy window of porky wonder.  All things wrapped in Lardo taste better; fish, lean meat, sausages, figs. Christmas has come early this year with pigs in blankets, devils on horseback (prunes not dates), angels on horseback (scallops not oysters) needing only the slightest excuse (none) to make an appearance. I would like to buy a huge needle and start larding everything except the heartburn and indigestion from Lardo is a killer and getting worse in proportion to the amount I am eating...

3rd December PS only now at the end do i really understand; slivers of Lardo added to a pan at the end of cooking create an aromatic salve, a porcine cologne that annoints aand improves all plates.