Who needs chocolate when there’s lardo?

April 28, 2010 · 11 comments

lardo_wrapped

Remember last weekend? Not your weekend, mine. Remember, it was me, locked in my house, alone with three cute yet exasperated and grumpy children, 33% of whom were ill?

From early on, I knew what I was facing. Husband leaving town: check. Baby getting dreadfully ill: check. Weather system moving in for entire weekend: check. I knew that my opportunities for contact with the outside world would be limited; knew that I needed to use my venturing-out time wisely. Figured out that, if I played my cards right, I could get just a couple errands done without having to jeopardize the fragile state of the Wee One.

One of those errands was a trip to the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market. And before you question my judgment, envisioning me, unable to restrain myself from strolling about said market, browsing while waiting for my handmade French breakfast crepe and picking up a fresh-cut bouquet of flowers for the breakfast table while dragging a feverish 18-month along for the ride, let me defend myself:  1) I had not been to the IWFM in about a month, 2) I owed cash money to the good folks at Big City Farms for our summer’s CSA, and those guys can be found there, 3) I needed chicken, and 4) It was the VERY LAST SATURDAY for the Winter Market. Yes, the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market starts up this Saturday, but not all vendors will make that transfer. So, you see, I simply HAD to go. (And no, crepes and bouquets were not a part of the experience. One friend told my husband later in the week that he had “seen [me] at the Market on Saturday, and I looked like I was all business.”)

The next stop is the one for which you might wisely choose to judge. You see, the IWFM is downtown. That’s a bit of a hike for us, and when I go that way I try to hit more than one stop to make it worth it. Is it my fault that Goose the Market is located conveniently on a street that I can choose to must travel to get home? The kids were doing fine — it was going to take a mere extra five minutes to stop and get something to make my Saturday night a little more than forlorn.

So I walked in, past the espresso and cookie counter, past the gelato case. I was looking for cured meat. Pizza was on the menu — it was, after all, a Saturday, and I’d been wanting to try out a new sourdough crust (details on that later). The kids would get their usual: Trader Joe’s pepperoni and prosciutto, with and without cheese. But my pie was going to be 100% grownup, and I wanted some crazy cured meat to show for it. My friend behind the meat counter (she’s not really my friend, but she helps me almost every time I’m in there, and always gives me good suggestions. I suppose at some point I should learn her name and make it official?), upon my request for good pizza toppings, pointed me in the direction of two items: a Spanish chorizo and lardo.

The chorizo — I was sold, that’s a no-brainer. Tons of paprika, sliced pepperoni-thin. Enough fat to let the edges curl up and get crunchy, enough spice to give a kick without knocking you to the floor. But what in this meat-loving store is lardo? Never heard of it. It is, apparently, something like bacon fat. As in, take some bacon, and trim off the fat. Then discard the meat part, and what you’re left with is lardo. Sort of. It’s really a bit more glamorous that that — the pork fat is cured with herbs, making it slightly more intentional than my description sounds. I mean, what’s not to like about a fat meat product that comes from the same area of Italy that brings us carrara marble?

lardo

My nameless friend at The Goose told me she’d slice it super-thin, and that if I just lay it on top of my pizza, some of the fat would melt onto the surface of the cheese, and I’d be left with little shrunken pieces of deliciousness. That the flavor would — did I say this already? — melt into the cheese. Need she say more? I requested my 1 1/2 ounces (she did in fact slice it quite thin) and set my sights on a date night: me, some fat, some sausage, and some good beer.

It wasn’t exactly the solo date night I was hoping for: I enjoyed said pizza and beer while my kids scarfed down their own versions of the same. And while the before and after of that dinner’s consumption was filled with chaos, tears, many time-outs, and the heartbreaking realization that I would be cleaning up a destroyed kitchen all by myself — that half-hour of sitting down with my lardo pizza and Two Hearted Ale was a glorious thirty minutes. The stuff did exactly what she promised — and while before last weekend I would’ve never considered topping a pizza with bacon fat, I am now a believer.

lardo_pizza

So satisfying, I didn’t even want dessert.

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{ 10 comments }

Dad April 29, 2010 at 10:03 am

Just keep an eye on the old cholesterol dear, you know high cholesterol runs in our family. Other than that, it sound GREAT! And you know that I liked the beer part as well.

Christine O. Taylor April 29, 2010 at 10:19 am

What a timely post! I bought some bacon at the meat counter without looking at the side view because last time it was very lean. This time I opened up the butcher paper and it was fatty fat fat. I ended up cutting off huge swaths of fat before cooking the bacon. Now I have another idea for the container of fat strips in the fridge.

Katherine April 29, 2010 at 11:04 am

That looks insane! I am actually, no kidding, literally, salivating and I did not even notice it until I had to do one of those slurping of my own drool at my computer desk. I want that right now.

katy April 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Thanks for the concern Dad ; )

Christine and Katherine, you must try. I’m not sure how much the specific curing had to do with the amazing flavor — so while I LOVE bacon on a pizza, I’m not sure bacon fat would do the same thing as the lardo. But it’s worth a try! Esp. since I don’t know how easy it is to get the real stuff. The Goose is a spectacular place.

Jennie Rader April 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm

We had our first lardo pizza a few weeks ago after a friend gave me a chunk from Goose. It wasnt as bold as I had expected, but a treat nonetheless……and a very far cry from my fat-free (sick!) days of old.
Bring on the fat! (But not on my belly, please.)

katy April 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Jenn, that friend doesn’t happen to work there, does she? ‘Cause if so, I’m hitting her up for more!

Amy April 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Katy, since you are so good with pizza, could you recommend a good white pizza recipe? And I am not a pesto fan.

Also, did I tell you I have started composting?

DesignHER Momma April 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I could recognize that beautiful white paper and black writing from a mile away. Lucky for me, it’s actually just a block down the street.

Angie @ Just Like The Number May 2, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I see a trip to the Goose in my very near future. Oddly enough, the lardo looks a lot like manchego in the picture, so now I’m craving chorizo, lardo and manchego. I love that your dad is concerned about your cholesterol! I think your dairy-free, soy-free, vegan scones probably cancelled out the melted fat on your pizza. That’s how it works in my book, anyhow.

Indianapolis Amy May 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

The pizza looks fab. I’ve never tried lardo– but I love Goose and will have to pick it up:)

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