JULIE BOTNICK (this article was first published in August 2012)
Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly From the From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
This week, we found a larding needle!
No, it’s not for vampire slaying. It is for piercing the flesh, though. Popular in France, this larding needle, technically termed a lardoir, is used to put fat back into a lean cut of meat. It is unsurprisingly less common in America, in a culture where any hint of fat is promptly cut out of our proteins. This long larding needle would probably be used for larger cuts of meat, like a roast, while smaller needles with clamps and giant sewing needles that can be threaded with fat are used for smaller cuts and for decoratively larding small game. To use this particular larding needle, a “simple lardoir,” feed a strip of lard or bacon, called a lardon or lardoon, into the open trough of the needle. Stick the needle into a roast up to the hilt, and once the tip comes out the other end, use a finger to hold the lardoon in place, and pull the needle out.
Great chefs used to use larding to add fat and flavor back into leaner, cheaper cuts. They larded meticulously, creating intricate patterns across the grain of the meat that would be visible when it was sliced.
We met up with Chef Ian Barrilleaux at Cochon Butcher to demonstrate how to use the larding needle. Watch the video above.
Our rating: Save it, if you’re not already cringing at the word “lard.”
Design: Poor, it just looks scary.
Originality: Average, it’s called a “simple lardoir” not just because it’s easy to use, but because it’s easily replicable.
Practicality: Excellent or poor, depending on your diet. For those who scrape the butter off their toast, it’s not very practical. Want some flavor? It’s excellent.