I am a hoarder. I admit it. In fact, I admitted it to a communal dining table on Saturday evening. Granted, the table was filled with a few friends, others known online and a few less than that, but, in my mind, the first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have one. Admitting that I hoard animal fat was the start I needed to solving the problem.
Yes, you read that correctly. I hoard animal fats. I have at least six on hand most of the time, sometimes more. I do not use them every night but I have favorite uses for most of them. For instance, I have a few spoonfuls of pastrami fat that I use exclusively with brussels sprouts. It is good enough that I do not feel the need to branch out. There are other favorite pairings, like ham fat and frozen peas or beef fat and radishes, but for the most part, I use a little each week and keep the rest around hoping for inspiration. Like the roasted chicken fat below.
On New Year’s Eve, I was gifted a slab of lamb lardo. It was one of my favorite courses from that dinner and became a very useful snack and seasoning. As time went on, I grew concerned with how best to keep it. Granted it was cured lamb fat which gave it an enormously long shelf life, but still.
I knew that once ground and potted, I could control the environment containing the lardo more closely. After all, I trust my ability to wrap lardo as much as I trust my ability to abstain from eating it. Grinding the cured and dried lardo proved to stress the hell out of my grinder, but once ground and brought to room temperature, the whipping process was easily handled by my stand mixer.
While the lardo was already seasoned with cumin and other spices, it was close to ready as is, but I added some toasted salt that was used to preserve lemon about half way through the whipping process. This additional flavor punch proved valuable as we are talking about whipped lamb fat.
The thing about lamb fat, along with beef fat is how at room temperature, these fats are still short of spreadable, unlike pork fat. However, once the fat is brought to about a temperature slightly above room temp, it behaves just like pork fat. It spreads and coats freshly baked bread more deliciously than butter. The lardo is certainly lamby, but the toasted lemon salt and cumin flavors elevate this into the next level of fats. As I move from hoarder back down to connoisseur, this technique will remain in my arsenal in dealing with cured fats in manageable, and maybe slightly less obsessive way.