Ciccioli, Country Bread and Dijon

In the last few months, the community of those in Chicago who look for sustainable meatstuffs (and many others) have been waiting patiently for the opening of Butcher and Larder. Frankly, when it is too damned hard in a meat town to find unfrozen local, well raised meat and someone who cares as much as Rob Levitt does about whole animal butchery is in process of opening such a shop, it is really exciting. 

In the time between leaving Mado and opening B&L, Rob helped Ellen Malloy butcher a pig in a blogging tête-à-tête commonly referred to as the Butcher and the Butcheress. One of the items shown in the butchering photography that caught my eye was that of ciccioli. Earlier, I made a version of ciccioli that resembles more a pork shoulder terrine and could not be more different  than the version featured here which is basically potted chicharrones.

This version is incredibly simple to make. Simple enough that an unabbreviated recipe can be contained in a singular tweet. The start, chop pork fat into small pieces and render the fat. As the fat renders, there will be bits that begin to brown.

As you continue to heat the fat, the solids brown further to a point where they are just a little past golden brown.  Once you get the color that you want, remove the pot from the heat and drain the rendered lard from the solids. When you do this, do not press the lard from the cracklin’-like ciccioli, you will need it later.

A great part about this project is that you start with half of a pound of back fat and you end up with zero loss. You have rendered pork lard to make or cap rillettes, make pie crust, or use as you wish and a jar of ciccioli to enjoy with dijon and some really good bread.

Once the fat has drained from the cracklings, toss them in a jar, season them aggressively, and press them down to release some of the lard. After chilling, the lard should act as the mortar with the cracklings being the bricks.

About an hour before you want to break into the ciccioli, take it out of the fridge to let it lose a little of its chill. The crispy bits have lost a little crunch while chilling in the fat, but you don’t lose all of the crunch. The flavor that is so appealing about pork rinds (real, not bagged rinds) is clear here, but like pork rinds, it needs some acid. In this case, a great dijon works wonders and balances the fatty richness that you can only get when you spoon caramelized fat soaking in lard onto a slice of country bread.