The Fat from the Pig’s Rump Preserved

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Appears in

Honey from a Weed

By Patience Gray

Published 1986

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The fat rump of the pig, cut into sections leaving the skin intact, preserved in dry sea salt, is a culinary winter standby in northern Italy. A particularly excellent version of this was the lardo di Bergiola, a village above Carrara, where blocks of lardo were conserved in dry salt in marble basins with dried mountain herbs.

Without these basins, but with the pig, its rump fat is perfectly simple to preserve. Cut it into pieces about 5 cm (2″) square and 4 cm (1½″) deep, rub it with coarse sea salt, sprinkle it with dried thyme and savory, add a few bayleaves, and put it into a glazed earthenware pot between layers of salt, packed in well. Cover with more salt and put on the lid. Brush off the salt before use. You can eat it, sliced, on bread.

This lardo remains as sweet and fresh as the day you put it in, and serves as the point of departure, diced and melted in a frying pan, for a soffritto of aromatics when preparing rustic bean soups, braising meat and game, or by itself, well-browned in small dice in a frittata. The pig’s skin can be preserved in the same way, to be used as the foundation of a braise. In northern Italy it is available in all pork butchers’ shops. In the south you make your own on the morning after the pig is killed.

The lard of lesser substance and more delicate taste from the pig’s innards is slowly melted down, then whipped and flavoured with finely chopped parsley. This lardo strutto is often used as above but also, without the parsley, for yeast cakes and pastry.