Whipped lardo is simply heavenly. A heavenly spread that was my holy grail of recipes. I’d eaten it at an underground restaurant type of meal and it stuck in my mind. Stuck so hard as one of the best bites I’d ever eaten that I scoured the internet, up, down and every which-way, without gaining even the first inkling of any idea how to make the dish. So it was taste and test time. For the last year I’ve made more attempts than I want to count, all equally failed, to recreate this dish.
It had been called ‘Whipped Lardo’ when I ate it, so yes, I began by making my own lardo. Good, yes, but was it making whipped lardo? No. So I kept going, rendering lard and whipping it, curing back fat right and left. Finally I had to give up. There was just no way I could figure it out without just a little hint from its creator.
Fate must have intervened, because a few weeks ago I took up a friend on an offer to attend that same underground restaurant type of meal. The cook was different, but luck would have it that the chef who made the whipped lardo, the wonderful and pretty darn cute Joel Cox, would be joining us in eating the dinner. So, fast forward to the car ride home, I’ve had a few glasses of wine and I finally feel courageous enough to ask “Joel, please tell me how you made that whipped lardo!”
And like a little child trying desperately to watch the beauty of the bubbles while also catching them in their hands, I listened as he told me the secret I had been missing. You grind the fat directly in the meat grinder. No actual lardo used, nor is there actual whipping. He told me the rest of the recipe, though I have to admit to having been so stuck on this part of the recipe that I only vaguely heard ingredients, so I improvised when I made it. He also explained that he had learned this recipe from the great Dario Cecchini, who you may have heard about in the book ‘Heat’ or seen on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
So what is the whipped lardo like? Like butter on overdrive, like meat in cream form, like flavor that is at once so simple and so complex that you must have another bite to figure out which one it is.
1/3 lb of pork back fat or leaf lard (Joel said back fat, I used leaf)
1 small clove of garlic, mashed into a paste
1 teaspoon of Sherry Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
Salt, pepper, rosemary to taste
Grind the fat through the smallest setting on your meat grinder. Add the garlic and vinegar and begin massaging air into it. As you work with the meat, folding in air using a motion like a back rub or milking a cow, it will get softer and softer. Add in salt and pepper and rosemary and begin to taste. It will need a decent amount of salt to bring out the full flavors, though go more sparsely on the pepper and rosemary for that big pig flavor. When you’re done, spread it on a cracker or piece of bread and enjoy.