It is made using fat from the pork belly or neck of a pig. Flat slabs of it are cured but not smoked, then spiced, and aged.
It is very white, and looks like a slab of uncooked streaky bacon (aka “regular bacon” in North America), but with even fewer streaks of meat in it, usually just one in fact.
It can be eaten raw. To serve, it is sliced paper thin and served often on hot toast as an antipasto.
In Northern Italy, it is also used in cooking, particularly as the cooking fat or part of a cooking fat to start a soffrito in. If it’s in a mix of fat, the mix is often ⅓ lardo, ⅓ butter, ⅓ olive oil.
Not many English speakers want to buy Lardo because of its name. It’s probably not worth your while checking with your local Heart Association for their recommended daily allowance of this. But, the same people that faint at the thought of eating Lardo often happily tuck away bags of chips, frozen dinners and slabs of “special treat” desserts.
Lardo is not exported to America. The American Department of Agriculture wants it heated to 156 F (69 C) before it is sold to consumers, but at that point, the fat would start melting, and it would no longer be Lardo. So, some chefs and specialty meat processors in America are making their own right in America to get past the import restrictions, though they are only aging it 6 to 16 weeks.
The best production areas for Lardo are considered to be Arnad in Valle d’Aosta and Colonnata in Tuscany. But, it is actually made in many, many parts of Italy, especially throughout Piedmont.
Slices of fatback, or unsmoked streaky bacon, in cooking.