Lardo di Arnad was originally made in homes throughout the lower part of the Aosta Valley. The lard came from domestically raised pigs that were fed chestnuts, grains and vegetables.
Thanks to the popularity of the lardo, butchers and cured-meat specialists began curing it as well. Nowadays, the pork used to make Lardo di Arnad is raised on farms in both the Aosta Valley and the nearby flatlands.
Lardo di Arnad DOP
The lard is taken from the shoulder of pigs that weigh at least 160 kg and are at least 9 months old. The meat should be pink and evenly colored. The cut of meat has a quadrangular shape and weighs between 5 to 9lbs.
When people first began making lardo, it was preserved and aged in doils, or chestnut wood containers with special joints that kept the brine from leaking out. Today the meat is generally placed in glass containers for food safety reasons.
To make lardo, one begins by trimming the meat, removing the skin, and putting it in a glass container with alternating layers of brine. The saltwater brine should be prepared ahead of time by boiling water with salt and other seasonings like pepper, rosemary, bay leaves, sage, cloves, cinnamon, juniper and nutmeg. A weighted cover is then placed on the container and the lardo is left to age up to a year. If the lard is to be stored for a longer time, it is transferred into sealable jars and covered in white wine. The process for making lardo di Arnad is now safeguarded by the Protected Designation of Origin DOP regulations from the European Union.
Lardo di Arnad should be served cut into thin slices and placed on hot pieces of broiled polenta. The lard will begin to melt and release its sweet and slightly savory aroma. Another typical way to serve lardo is as “bocon du diable”, or on a slice of rye bread, toasted in a pan with garlic and covered with honey. This is also a popular way to serve mocetta, another local salume.