Lardo Speziato is obtained from the processing of the fatty layer of the pork, which is seasoned and flavored. It is effectively a charcuterie product: it has a typical rectangular shape and it has a surface covered with aromatic salt and herbs that give it the classic look and inviting aroma. In some cases a thin strip of meat is left on the product, which the master grocers call “the skinny”. The Lardo Speziato is a food of great value and quality typical of Italy: today it occupies an important space in the preparation of appetizers in the most prestigious restaurants in Italy as well as on the taverns and inns tables throughout the “Bel Paese”.
A little known story
Today the Lardo Speziato of Colonnata is a food registered as a products with protected geographical indication, PGI, but unlike other cold meats, such as theProsciutto Crudo di Parma, Coppa di Parma and Bresaola, it lacks a known and certain history. The references are mixed with popular culture and folklore. The word “lardo” is of ancient origins. In ancient Greece and Rome it simply meant “animal fat”, which at the time was used for cooking, or as a condiment. Today we lack certain references to its use as a standalone food. This lack of data is accompanied by a lot of rumors such the legend handed down from generation to generation that involves the well-known Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1567). According to some stories, when he went to Colonnata to choose marble, he also made a supply of lard. The supporting tests are limited, if not absent and the history of this delicatessen product processing can not be clearly reconstructed. Its use as a food, and not just as a condiment, since the medieval age. The Lardo Speziato history is certainly related to Colonnata city: land of good food and good marble. This is precisely the material used to make the Lardo Speziato di Colonnata seasoning tanks. The marble guarantees continuous perspiration and that little bit of calcium carbonate which is one of the secrets of the softness and compactness of this food.
The Lardo di Colonnata PGI is obtained from the cuts of the adipose layer of the back from the occipital region up to the buttocks. The thickness of the cut must be more than 3 cm. The lard must be processed fresh, and the finishing process must start at the latest after 72 hours from slaughter. The carefully trimmed fat portion is massaged with salt and then placed in the appropriate marble tanks, where layers of spices and lard are alternated. The ingredients authorized at this stage of processing are: natural sea salt, ground black pepper, fresh rosemary, peeled and chopped garlic. According to some local traditions can also be added: cinnamon, star anise, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, sage and oregano. There are many variations: proof of a story with multiple facets and mixed with that of popular and family tradition. The marble basins are finally closed: the maturation period has a minimum duration of 6 months.
Lardo Speziato more than a food should be considered a “pleasure to be indulged rarely”: a slice weighing 10 g served on a bruschetta of hot bread does not change the balance of the day. However more than one will do! The cholesterol intake of 10 g of lard corresponds to less than 4% of the maximum recommended amount per day for this fat and also the calories should not scare, only 98 kcal each slice. For those who follow a healthy and active lifestyle it will be easy to allow themselves this sin of gluttony.
How to taste
A slice of warm Tuscan bread and one of lard: here is how this meat is served according to tradition. It is such a good and fragrant food that it deserves noble combinations with wine. In restaurants, in fact, it also serves as an appetizer accompanied by a glass of Italian sparkling wine such as Prosecco Superiore DOCG or Franciacorta DOCG.
Bibliography – Desinari nostrali: storia dell’alimentazione a Firenze e in Toscana. Zeffiro Ciuffoletti, Giuliano Pinto David Brown, Book Company, 2005 – 253 pagine – Guida per la valorizzazione dei prodotti agroalimentari tipici. Concetti, metodi e strumenti. Daniele Papi, 2006 – 120 pagine – IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat – http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf (accesso del 10.07.2018) – La carne non è «come» il fumo – www.fondazioneveronesi.it/ (accesso del 10.07.2018) – La Dieta Mediterranea – Dalle antiche tradizioni, salute e buona cucina – G. Sangiorgi Cellini, A. Toti – Giunti Edizioni 2004 – LARN Livelli di Assunzione di Riferimento di Nutrienti ed energia per la popolazione italiana. SINU, Società Italiana di Nutrizione Umana. Autore: Francesca Antonucci
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