Larding is the cooking technique of inserting strips or pieces of fat into a piece of meat that doesn't have much fat of its own.
Fat is important in cooking, as it melts and keeps the meat from drying out. It's a myth that braising or even boiling meat will keep meat moist.
There was a time in the last half of the 1900s, when people didn't need to do larding very much, as farmers had worked to breed animals with better marbling in their meat. No sooner had that been achieved, however, than consumers changed their minds and wanted "fat free" meat, and looked askance at meat that had much or any marbling in it. Consequently, farmers are going back to breeding meat that doesn't have much fat of its own, and we have almost reached the point that we have to start larding again.
Some meats, such as venison, have always been larded.
Often lard (pork fat) is used, but if you are doing beef you would want to use beef fat to "lard" your beef with.
PiquéMeat that has been larded is described in French as "piqué."
Some people like to get very fancy and soak the lard first in alcohol such as vermouth or cognac. (It's good to know the bon vivants are still out there.)
Larding Meat without a larding needleThis method is actually way faster than using an old-fashioned larding needle, though because it involves freezing the lard, it wouldn't have been available to everyone until they had home freezers in the mid-1900s. Use salt pork or streaky, fatty bacon. Cut into thin triangles an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) long, and about an inch (2.5 cm) wide, with a point at one end. Freeze until hard. Cut slits in the meat, and insert the frozen fat triangles pointy end first. Work them all the way in. Put a piece of fat every inch to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) or so in the meat.
Larding Needle for MeatThere are basically two types of Larding Needles. Some have a rigid, pointed tip, others have a hinged tip. One kind (called "aiguille" in French) has a hollow handle or tube, like a turkey baster would. You put the fat in the handle and then "inject" it in, often with a plunger. The other kind (called a "lardoire" in French) has a clip on the back. You attach fat to it and force the fat in, as though you were sewing. You then pull the needle out and repeat.
Literature & Lore
A person's speech can also be larded: "He larded his speech with pretentious French expressions."
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