“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.
- 1 High quality, free range chicken
- 6 or 7 streaky rashers
- 4 thin slices of high quality Lardo
- 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
Making the stuffing is really straightforward. Slice up the onions very small and fry, over a low heat, until translucent.
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.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon in too. Mix until well combined.
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.
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.
If you have some left-over stuffing, mould it into balls. I decorated mine with strips of Lardo both for flavour and appearance.
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).
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.
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.
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.