Chances are, you love charcuterie: we’re talking salami, prosciutto, bresaola, and other cured or preserved meats. But attempting to make these things at home? Thoughts of complicated curing chambers? You’re damn right that sounds intimidating.
To ease our homemade-charcuterie fears, we approached Ori Menashe, master salumi-maker and chef at Bestia in L.A, who learned his craft working with the estimable Gino Angelini and staging at The Fatted Calf in Napa. If anyone could guide a novice through approachable charcuterie projects, it would be our boy, Menashe.
First up, the chef showed us how to make whipped lardo, or pork fatback cured with salt and spices. It’s the easiest of all the DIY charcuterie projects, and the end product—which we like to call pork butter—can be smeared onto warm toast, put on homemade pizza alongside ricotta and honey, or used instead of real butter to finish a steak.
The fat is floral—thanks to fennel pollen—and a little garlicky, but mostly it just tastes like bacon drippings. The chef uses fat from Red Wattle pigs from Sonoma County that he butchers in-house, but you can stroll down the street to your butcher and ask him for some ground pork fatback. The best part of making lardo, though? “This can sit in your fridge for as long as you want if it’s in an air-tight container. It never goes bad,” says Menashe. Let’s get started already.
How to Make Chopped Liver at Home
Makes about 4.5 cups
- 1 kilo (4.2 cups) ground pork fat
- 25 grams salt
- 2.5 grams pink salt #2
- 5 grams chopped garlic
- 5 grams dextrose
- 3 grams ground fennel seed
- 3 grams ground black pepper
- 5 grams fennel pollen
1. Secure your pork fat.
Go to your butcher and ask him for ground pork fat. If you have a meat grinder at home, you can buy unground pork fat (pictured below) and pass it through the medium dye on your meat grinder. Then pass it through the grinder a second time using the small dye.
2. Add the seasoning.
Season the ground pork fat with the pink salt, regular salt, dextrose, garlic, fennel pollen, black pepper, and fennel seed. Let the seasoned pork fat sit in the refrigerator overnight. “There’s such a high amount of salt in the lardo, it actually cures it,” explains Menashe.
3. Whip it.
The following day, take the pork fat out of the refrigerator and whip it in the Kitchenaid with a paddle attachment until the fat is aerated. (Alternatively, get rustic and use your hands like Menashe does here.)
4. Grill it.
Grill or toast a slice of the best bread you can find.
5. Spread it.
While the bread is still warm, spread the whipped lardo all over it. The delicious fat will melt into the bread.
6: Plate it.
Menashe adds dollops of date paste onto the lardo-covered toast to achieve a salty-sweet balance. To make the paste, the chef purees dates with a tiny bit of water until smooth. Trust us: pork fat toast is what dreams are made of.