Recently every menu worth its cured meats has let lardo have its day. And rightly so. Having fallen for the buttery charms of jamon, it’s about time you locked your lips on this goodness. It is melt-in-the-mouth tender adding a richness and glorious mouth feel that little else can in one single mouthful.
Lardo is the perfect accompaniment, like the date you can take to meet your friends without having to babysit. It knows who it is without trying too hard. It shows off a little bit just to demonstrate its personality without being the wanker at the dinner party that no one wants to talk to. In other words, lardo is exactly what you want at dinner.
Here I have used whisper thin slices with slow roasted and caramelised pumpkin taking the otherwise bog standard plate of roast veggies up a notch (or several).
Spiced Slow Roasted Pumpkin and Lardo Salad
½ Kent or Jap Pumpkin, skin on, seeds in
100g lardo at room temperature
Very small handful of marjoram leaves, coarsely torn (reserve some to serve)
Very small handful of oregano leaves, coarsely torn (reserve some to serve)
2-3 dried bay leaves, crushed
Skin of 1 lemon cut into strips
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup Sicilian olives (in brine)
Sprinkling of ancho chilli (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place pumpkin on a baking tray, season and sprinkle over the fresh herbs and a generous coating of olive oil, the soy sauce, and brown sugar. Add the lemon strips. Toss with your hands to coat evenly. Bake for 35–40 minutes until tender and lightly caramelised. Keep an eye on it—you don’t want the pumpkin to over cook and turn to mush. Remove from the oven and turn into a serving plate. Immediately, while the pumpkin is still very hot, scatter over the lardo slices—this just warms it to perfection. Scatter over the fresh herbs, olives and chilli if using. Serve warm.
Image credit: Katrina Meynick