Lardo Chicken – Another Lesson In My Culinary Education

“What on earth is Lardo?”, I hear you ask. Only because I was in the “What is Lardo?” camp myself until my friend Katia brought me a piece back from a trip to Rome. Lardo is the cured back-fat of a pig. This may cause some of you to recoil in horror. Get over yourselves if you do. If you use butter, oil or margarine, you are using fat in your cooking. Lardo is fat. Lardo is not the sort of thing you should eat by the block. But, Lardo is a true delight when used correctly.

Katia tells me that I need to serve my Lardo, thinly sliced on sourdough bread. That is a treat in store for me. For Today, I am preparing a stuffed roast chicken with Lardo.

Side note on chicken: I am using a high quality free range chicken for this recipe. When it comes to poultry, you get that for which you pay. Spend the money. Its worth it.

On to the recipe. Stuffing is very much a question of personal choice. Here’s my complete list to cook delightful Stuffed Lardo Chicken.

Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 High quality, free range chicken
  • 6 or 7 streaky rashers
  • 4 thin slices of high quality Lardo

Stuffing Ingredients

  • 250 grammes of breadcrumbs
  • 2 onions
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 handful of fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Instructions

Making the stuffing is really straightforward. Slice up the onions very small and fry, over a low heat, until translucent.

These are not yet translucent. Don’t rush them or they will burn.

Chop the parsley and the chives. Chop the cooking apple into small pieces (1cm cubes). Tip all of these into the breadcrumbs. Add the salt and pepper. Zest the lemon into the breadcrumbs.

An investment in a zesting tool is a good idea if you want to do this.

Squeeze the juice of the lemon in too. Mix until well combined.

It is really good to eat as it is. Resist the temptation.

Prepare the chicken for the Lardo by getting your hand under the skin at the opening end and working the skin loose from the meat.

This bit is not as much fun as it looks….

Carve four thin slices off the Lardo. Press it under the skin of the chicken, positioning two pieces on each breast. Fill the chicken cavity with the stuffing. When I say fill, I mean FILL. Stuff it in there.

Lovely left over stuffing balls. These are delicious.

If you have some left-over stuffing, mould it into balls. I decorated mine with strips of Lardo both for flavour and appearance.

The slices of Lardo will melt into the chicken.

Tie the legs of the chicken together with a bit of kitchen twine. This will prevent the stuffing falling out during cooking. Drape the chicken with the bacon, intertwining it in an attractive lattice pattern (more attractive than mine).

Latticing is not my greatest skill.

Place in  190ºC (375ºF) oven and roast for an hour and three quarters. If you are feeling nervous about the chicken not being cooked, stick a skewer into the bottom part of the leg. If the juices run clear, you too are in the clear. If they run red, it’s back in the oven for another fifteen minutes.

Out of the oven – plump and moist. Mmmmmm.

Cook the Lardo draped stuffing balls for about fifteen minutes. This will give them a nice crust. They really don’t need to be cooked beyond cooking any stray chicken bacteria that may have made its way across while stuffing the bird.

When the chicken is cooked, let it rest, covered with tinfoil for twenty minutes. You can usefully use the 20 minutes to make a gravy from those clear juices and other bits in the roasting tray.

The bit of gravy adds a lovely dimension to this dish.

Serve this to a thankful set of diners. They will love it. The Lardo adds a fantastic and unexpected depth of flavour to the chicken as well as to the stuffing. This is rustic, basic cooking at it’s best. I have yet to have my Lardo on sourdough. But, if it is anywhere near as good as this chicken, it is a treat in store.

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Latest comments
  • *smile* Actually I prefer lardo from the back to bacon from the tummy! I would not make its usage a daily habit, but being an utterly boring nutritionist the stuff should have 50% monosaturated ‘healthy’ fat and, methinks would help the chicken attain maximum flavour indeed . . . and there is absolutely nought wrong with your ‘latticing’ and I do like that stuffing: chives, apple and lemon do appeal . . . . a number of places in Sydney do actually sell lardo: so may have an adventure . . .

  • A nice wafer of cured or smoked fat can be delicious; it’s one of the chief joys of carving a ham – I get to snarf the bits that don’t make it into the frying pan to render down, so I can quite see how tasty Lardo must be, directly basting your chicken.

      • I don’t much care for raw fat, or indeed (and here’s heresy!) crackling or roasted fat, but I dearly love a slither of smoky, buttery ham fat.

  • If Dr. Frankenstein was a chef, I do believe he’d appreciate your chicken-pig hybrid! I bet the chicken was extremely flavorful with all that lardo and bacon about. We sometimes have charcuterie boards that come with a small piece of lardo. Delicious!

  • I’ve found something similar in Russian stores in Brooklyn. Love the way you’ve used it with the chicken. Fats are underappreciated these days!

  • Delighted you enjoyed it so much. Great presents are never wasted on you.

  • Thin slices of lardo, heated gently, and served on grilled slices of a hearty loaf with a little sea salt and cracked pepper. To DIE for! Especially when chased down with a little grappa for “dessert.”

    That chicken and stuffing looks divine — your lattice is plenty attractive! 🙂

  • That should be dessert, not desert. My lardo memories must be interfering with my ability to type!

  • I don’t know how you’re going to top that!

  • Looks like you have a lattice shrinkage problem. What an original way of using lardo. In Italy it is served on crostini, in pasta dishes, and in stews like oxtail (coda) alla vaccinara. I’d say your balls of stuffing with lardo are a variation of the crostini.

  • I could eat lardo on toast everyday, but if I did, I’d likely not be here. Those stuffing balls look great. My grandmother used to use the leftover stuffing mix for balls as well. She’d then fry them in bacon grease. Another practice likely not to be healthy. Great looking chicken and recipe.

  • Here, in the states, we cut the chickens leg at the joint where the foot meets the drumstick. Just whacking the foot off and leaving the leg looks strange to me. Is there a reason you Brits butcher them like that? Recipe look delicious.

  • Of course it is Lardo that gave cooks the term ‘larding’ meaning to insert fine strips of lardo into meat before cooking – you could buy ‘larding needles’ back in the day.
    Living in China, where pig is the number one meat choice (and the price is regulated by the government), and where they serve practically everything but the squeak, it amazes me that I can’t find lardo or an equivalent; trotters, ears, tails, whole heads, lungs, stomachs – you name it, but no lardo….somebody from Italy needs to come and enlighten them! BTW the recipe looks delicious, thank you.

  • I stopped drooling for 3 seconds there, just to register the fact that 1.75 hours seems quite short to roast a chicken, particularly one that’s stuffed to capacity. Then I registered that I am perpetually petrified of undercooking chicken, to the extent of overcooking it all the time. Then I went back to drooling.

  • Sorry…didn’t mean to insult you by calling you a Brit. Thanks for straightening me out.

  • I am going a bit week in the knees at the thought of this!! And stuffing balls!! I love them!! Still chuckling over the comment “not as fun as it looks, lol!!”

  • Lardo is a bit like a magic ingredient. I love how it has it’s own flavour and still supports other flavours as well. What a lovely gift 🙂

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