Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lardo D'Arnad

This is a pretty requested recipe, and I'm finally getting around to making a batch, so I hope this answers the numerous questions I've gotten about it.

Lardo in Italian means lard or fatback. It's cured in numerous areas of Italy, with the most famous being in Tuscany, where it's known as Lardo di Colonnata. This recipe is a recreation of a lardo style made in Arnad in the Valle D'Aosta region, or at least my rendition of this lardo. The fatback is cured and then sliced thinly and eating as a salume.

The hardest part of this recipe is procuring a piece of fatback that's thick enough to use. You won't be able to find it at a supermarket, you'll have to source it from your friendly local farmer. The rest is easy. It's just brine cured, not dry cured at all.

Lardo D'Arnad
IngredientQuantity(g)% of water
Fat back
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Garlic
Bay Leaves
8 leaves
Black Pepper
Cure #1

Lardo D'Arnad is traditionally brine cured in large wooden boxes called "doils". Clearly I don't own chestnut wood boxes in which to cure my lardo, so i used a large plastic container.

Nice fresh rosemary. It's washed and ready to use.

Sage and garlic cloves.

Juniper berries lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle.

The water is brought to a boil, the salt is added and all the spices, herbs, and curing salt is dumped in. Turn off the fire and cover. Let cool to room temperature. Basically an herbal, salty tea is made.

Here is the brine. Ready to cure the fatback.

I want to take a minute to detail how i calculated the amount of curing salts to add. This is actually somewhat complicated and not exactly agreed upon.
There is a detailed discussion of brine curing on the forum. Parts of the discussion on brine curing can be found here and here. Keep in mind that curing in a brine is different than dry curing. In dry curing, it's pretty safe to assume that the amount of salt you add and curing salts you add, pretty much end up in the meat. With a brine, that wouldn't be correct. There are a few brine curing calculation methods which are detailed by the FDA, I'm assuming an equilibrium method for brine curing, which is detailed in the FDA processing inspectors handbook. Based on all this reading, I decided i wanted the residual parts per million of nitrites to be about 150. I decided on 150PPM as that is the residual nitrite allowed by the European Union, which to be perfectly honest, i trust more than our own FDA, which allows up to 200PPM.

To achieve 150PPM, based on experimental analysis by some fellows on, that meant I had to add 175 ppm of nitrites to my brine. The main discrepancy with my product and the FDA book is that the book assumes a piece of meat, whereas my item is pure fat, which means the uptake may be slightly different. Unfortunately, i have nothing else to go by, so i assume it acted the same as meat.

Given the quantity of salt (25% brine), I would actually feel OK about leaving the cure out in this case, but I added it in this instance.

So to calculate my 175PPM of nitrites i used the following math:
(grams of nitrite to add) = (PPM required*(weight of meat + weight of brine))/1000000

Using this equation : g=(175*(2800+1600))/1000000 = 0.77g (the brine with all the stuff added weighed 2800g)

So I could use 0.77g of pure sodium nitrite, which i do not have. I have cure #1, which is 6.25% sodium nitrite. That means I would have to use (0.77/0.0625) = 12.3g of cure #1.

So that's our math lesson for today. Please take the time to read the FDA processors handbook, as well as the forum posts. There is a very interesting discussion in there. The processors handbook has great examples for the calculations, as well as safety limits for many of the products we use.

So here is the piece of fatback that is about to go into the brine. You can see this is no normal piece of fat from a factory pig. This is an Ossabaw fat back from Caw Caw Creek. Attempting this with a piece of fatback that's thinner than 1.5" would be pretty much useless I think.

The fatback is put into the brine, and flipped once a month. It's left in the brine to equilibrate for a total of about 3 months. Once it's done, it's sliced super thin and eaten with some black pepper and some crusty bread.


Phil said...

Wow Jason, I'm envious of that piece of fatback - I've never seen any that thick in the UK.

Phil (wheels)

Jasonmolinari said...

Hey phil, it's really almost unheard of here too. I got lucky with the farmer.

scott said...

Lovely piece of fat. I look forward to your results. Mine should be ready in about a month.

Darrin McCowan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jennifer S said...

That's great fat, Jason. Looks similar to Scott's Mangalsita fat from Sausage Debauchery

And with Serrano Ham pigs as ancestors, the Ossabaw fat can't be terrible.

Thanks for the detailed information on the nitrite calculations, and the references to the FDA and EU numbers. I'd trust the EU a bit more on this one, too.

Jasonmolinari said...

Thanks Jennifer. I agree on the Ossabaw. Unfortunately, i've heard Emile @ Caw Caw doesn't raise them anymore...but i haven't actually asked him.

Unknown said...

Brilliant stuff, thanks for the recipe! I always though lardo is only eaten in Ukraine where it is called salo - looks like I was wrong :)

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

That Lardo looks Great!!!

I've just started a piece of lardo from a berkshire, which is only about an inch and a half thick.. hazlenut finished so it should be nice.

Even the mangalitsa's I've seen haven't been that thick.. that's a nice piece of backfat Jason

Unknown said...

Jason. That looks good. Where in GA did you find the fatback? I also live in GA and would like to get some.

Jasonmolinari said...

steven, i didn't get it in GA. It's from a farm in N. Carolina. Caw Caw Creek.

Unknown said...


I have reviewed your website mulitple times and wanted to see if you have any insight or recoomendations on where to find recipes for Spanish Cured meats? Serrano Hams, Types of Chorizo and Cantipallo etc.

I have been searching for some time and have not been successfull beyond a simple chorizo?

Much appreciated


Jasonmolinari said...

Hi Tony, sorry i can't help much. The best recipe site i know of is Len Poli's page. Take a look in my links.
See if he has what you're looking for!

Chris Harrison said...

Hey Jason,
No sooner asked, than done...
Thanks for the quick reaction :-)
Now to find a nice, fat pig of my own!

Gabel Real Estate said...

Jason - when you flip the fatback (gorgeous btw) did you open the container and flip it or just flip the container?

Wondering about introducing contaminants. But I suppose the salinity takes care it.


Jasonmolinari said...

Tim, i open the container and flip it. Wash hands before to keep contamination to a minimum

Black Label Meat said...

Hey Jason, I found your blog about 2 months ago and now I have become obsessed with this stuff. I just wanted to say thanks for the blog and say dear lord that is some awesome fatback. I'm up here in Bellingham, Wa and I'm just getting to the stage of trying to find farmers to work with. Again thanks!

Drew Kleinhans said...

Caw Caw Creek (South Carolina actually) does not raise Ossabaw hogs anymore, I have confirmed that with Emile a few months ago. Too bad really, as this is a species is listed as critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Those in the southeast can still find Ossabaw pork though; check out Nature's Harmony Farm.

Jasonmolinari said...

Yup, i also spoke to Emile this week...he said not to worry about the name...his pork is always the best. Ossabaw or something else.

Justin said...

Looks awesome. We are raising Ossabaw's in WVA for our Charcuterie project! Crossing them with farmers hybrid & WVA Longnose. Pastured and forest finished in the fall. Try curing the Ossabaw loin with that beautiful fat attached not thats LOMO!

Jasonmolinari said...

thanks Justin. If i can get a nice loin with the fat attached that would be awesome!

Indirect Heat said...

You ever cook with fatback? Or is it primarily served on fresh bread?

Jasonmolinari said...

BBQ dude, i do cook with fatback, but not much. I mostly have it with fresh bread.

Carolina Rig said...

Looks great, and I can't wait to try. But I don't have access to fat back that thick...that leads to my question, why do you state it would be pretty much useless with a thinner cut of fatback. Couldn't you adjust the time you cure to achieve the same lardo bliss? Thanks.

Jasonmolinari said...

You could, it would justbe hard to use since the slices would be so thin/narrow...but it would work i guess.

Carolina Rig said...

I gotcha...that's what I figured. Just wanted to be sure there wasn't a 'taste' issue. Thanks!

Sausage King of LA said...

Hi Jason,

Love the site. But for this, you don't have to dry the meat?

So it basically goes straight from brining to serving?


Jasonmolinari said...

Correct Marc, this goes from brine to table.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason, just curious but why do you not dry cure and hang it? I'm certainly no expert, but that's always the way I've seen lardo cured. Is this a specific type that is brined, or specific to a certain area?

Jasonmolinari said...

This lardo is specific to the area of Val D'Aosta. It's made in a brine. There are certainly other areas that dry cure instead of brine curing.

Tom P said...

Good evening, Jason! I've got about 9# of Mangalitsa backfat, and three of it are going into a variant of this. I recalculated your percentages to base them on total weight, then went 2:1 meat:brine and cut the salt about in half. The brine's cooling now, and I'm really looking forward to dig in when it's ready. The lonzo's next...

Jasonmolinari said...

Sounds great Tom!

Tom P. said...

Well, it's been nearly three months and I couldn't wait any longer. Straight out of the brine, the flavor's excellent. Obviously it needs some drying time to improve the texture, but this is definitely going to be part of the Christmas package to the most special people in my life.

Jasonmolinari said...

Tom, i don't think lardo is traditionally dried because there really isn't any, or much, water to dry out in the fat.
Let me know how it changes after drying.

Tom P. said...

Jason, I put a 6 oz piece in at 35F and 55%, and it lost about 1/4 oz (4%) in a couple of days. Not much, but it feels to me like it did tighten up a bit. Seems to me that since salt isn't fat-soluble, it can't transport in unless the piece absorbs a fair amount of water.

But it's good either way.

David k. said...

Did you do anything to submerge the fat? I am a little worried about spoilage if the top is exposed for a month

Jasonmolinari said...

David, yes, i use a plate or similar weight.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason, I made your lardo d'arnad and after about 2 months, my bag broke and leaked out most of the brine.... My piece was thick but not as thick as yours (about 1 inch at thickest) and had a TINY bit of meat on it. Would you think it would be safe to assume that it's ok?

Jasonmolinari said...

2 months should be long enough...i say go for it.

Curious Lardo said...

Hi jason,
Can you make Lardo without the use of sodium nitrite? I got a little lazy and skipped on using it for my brine. Will I die if I eat my finished lardo raw since I did not use any pink salt?

Jasonmolinari said...

You SHOULD be fine with just the salt since it's a solid piece of fat, the risk is pretty low.

Unknown said...

Hi Jason, is there any negative effect to keeping the fat in the brine longer than 3 months? Also, what is the best way to store it once i have completed the brine? should it be served at a certain temp?


Jasonmolinari said...

At this salt concentration i dont see a problem keeping it longer than 3 months in brine, but i don't see a reason to either.
You can store it vacuum packed in the fridge.
Slice and serve at room temp is best.

Unknown said...

Dear Jason,

I'd like to know in what temperature conditions did you keep your brine during the 3 months. Do I need to put it in a fridge?