Lard de Begnins

charcuterie

Everyone once in a while – and I could likely count the number of times on one hand – I’ve put something in my mouth that silenced me. Unfortunately for the people around me, it doesn’t happen all that often. But when I was told that there was a special lard made in Nyon, I changed my plans for the morning because something inside me (perhaps my rumbling stomach…) told me that it was something that I just had to check out.

lard de Begnins

When we pulled up in front of Chez Philou, the windows were blocked by stacked crates of cabbages, no doubt destined for saucisse aux choux fumé, or smoked cabbage sausages, a specialty of the region. But a pile of raw cabbage didn’t really interest me as much as the smoky aromas clouding the windows of the shop and wafting outside whenever a customer went in or came out.

Once I found myself inside, I noticed there’s just a small rotisserie, almost Popeil-like in size, where rectangular lengths of pork were turning around, spitting juices on the oven window. Alongside was a big pile of already cooked lard cooling.

mini sausage lard de Begnins

The counterman offered me a taste, and placed a few strips on a neat square of butcher paper. The edges crumbled with little hard bits, which I assumed were chapelure (bread crumbs) but was told that they were just pieces of the cracky crust.

When I slid that first piece in my mouth, everything around me just went blank as the slightly smoky flavor of the thin, roasted pork melted in my mouth. And my body went limp. (Well, not all of it…)

where the meat is from

One of the stocky butchers was tending to the task and when I saw him place the raw pork strips on the racks, about to be cooked, I asked what they were seasoned with, or marinated in. He started telling me, until the other butcher hollered over the counter “Don’t give away the recipe!”

uncooked lard de Begnins lard de Begnins

So like recipe for Malakoff, who knows what is in this dazzling bacon. My friend who I was traveling with, who is more astute than I (even though he was also sighing over the lard), said he heard them say “apple juice.” So aside from a mysterious yellow powdery spice that I saw strewn on top, that’s all I know.

lard de Begnins

I ended up eating as much as I could in the shop, then had the butcher slice and shrink-wrap for me a few slices of the bacon. As the butcher shaved off the pork strips on the machine, making a several rows of neat slices, my friend figured he should tip me off, and warned – “Do you see how much you’re getting?”

butcher sausage of some sort

“Yes”, I replied, “I do.”

Swiss lard de Begnins shrink wrapped lard de Begnins

Chez Philou
Grand Rue
1268 Begnins, Switzerland
Tél: 022 366 13 14



Notes

The first picture of the charcuterie plate was taken at Au Coeur de la Côte, near the butcher shop, which serves lard de Begnins as part of its Assiette Vaudoise.

The word lard in French refers to bacon or pork belly, rather than pure pork fat, as it means elsewhere. Pork fat in French is saindoux. (Someone who is considered pig-headed is referred to as having a tête de lard.)



Related Posts and Recipes

Carnitas

Raclette

Braised Short Ribs

Blue Cheese Dressing

Meribel

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Ribs

Candied Bacon Ice Cream

54 comments

  • After reading that I wouldn’t mind if you felt compelled to try and recreate the recipe and then give us a few hints ;-). Living in Sydney I feel my chances of ever actually eating it at the source seem remote – but it looks almost worth the 24 hrs each way.. My mouth is watering!

  • Can’t help you out. Charcuterie isn’t anything I have experience with and all I got was “apple juice” and “yellow powder” for you…

  • I get silenced by exceptionally good food too. I can’t remember tthe last time I felt that way but it must have been about meat or dessert for sure. This post is eye candy for meat lovers.

  • That bacon looks absolutely fantastic, I love how the skin has crackled and the the marbled look of the meat. Wondeful!

  • I’ll admit: I typically don’t think “French” when I think “bacon,” (and I have no idea why), but that sounds wonderful.

  • One more time:

    Must resist the urge to visit David’s blog before breakfast…

    That charcuterie plate in the first pic would do nicely…

  • Oh, this blog never fails to make me hungry! All this meat looks amazing.

  • Wow, bacon with crackly skin sounds awesome.
    Btw, am I deluded or lard de begnins looks like a thinly sliced roasted pork belly(Chinese/Filipino cuisine). In this blog mentioned that there’s lot’s of sugestion on how to make the skin is crackling, one of them is using rice vinegar. Dunno if that helped explain the apple juice part…

  • I wonder if that yellow powder is dried Swiss cheese, mustard powder or both

  • I had a similar experience when I tasted Lardo di Colonnata for the first time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lardo)

  • Can we trade lives?

  • Picture #2… heavenly.

  • There is nothing sexier than a picture of a big slab of bacon!

  • It looks and sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • They amazing – and your description of biting into them is naughtily perfect.

  • Ooh. Pretty in pink.

    Popeil-like, that’s funny. You know they still sell the Pocket Fisherman!
    LL

  • and I thought that, after watching a ‘Chinese Wallmart’ display another foodie friend sent me, I would like to become a Vegetarian! :)
    mmmmh – I want some too – and thanks for the lardy pics too.

  • I can’t quite imagine many emails in my inbox with the subject including the word ‘lard’ that would get my attention but I knew you would not disappoint!

    I just recently made my own corned beef from Michael Ruhlman’s ‘Charcuterie’ book and next weekend I’m making bacon. There will be no mystery powders or other substances but I’ve even more excited now about that pork belly in the fridge.

  • I would LOVE to meet you in Paris. I live there half the year, off and on. It was my constant home for well over 30 years. My place is in Montmartre. If you’re up for meeting over a glass of wine and some cheese, let me know via email. I’ll be in France in May-June.
    Love your articles. Especially the photos. What kind of camera do you use?

  • This looks SO GOOD, it’s unbelievable. I really need to go to Switzerland now..

  • It’s a wonder what apple juice and yellow powder can do. Sometimes you have to love the mystery.

  • Yellow powder…hmmm…I would tend to think some kind of mustard as well. Apple and mustard are often used in pork recipes, yes? My chops were salivating “ingesting” the photos, whatever they used…keep the magnificent food adventures coming…I loved the Malakoff and could even imagine myself attempting it after the input of your other crafty commenters.

  • I just moved to Switzerland in August, for three years. After tasting the food, the fresh meat, the dairy (and hellooooo, i HATE dairy, but i’m now a convert), and the incredible produce, I never want to go back to the US. I’m on a 3-year sabbatical here while my husband works. I’m learning to cook (among a few other hobbies I reently took up). I’m a decent Italian cook (I better be, I’m 100% Italian) but sadly a horrible French cook. Oh well, there’s time to learn. I’m dying to make your lemon bars which i haven’t tried yet, but that’s because i’m worse baker than I am a French chef. Somewhere in between baking and French cooking lies my French speaking skills. Sigh. But I’m loving living here and I can just relate so well to what you’re currently writing about. Oh and I love Paris too, but that’s another story.

    Your blog is inspirational and hopefully i’ll try the lemon bars soon. But alas I need to buy a better blender. I didn’t know I’d take up cooking when I came here!

  • Looks tasty. Good thing I already ate as this is making me crave some piggy products.

  • You bastard! My mouth is watering uncontrollably and here I am in Los Angeles a zillion miles from Nyon. Thanks.

  • Good god man, you’re killing me. There’s drool on the keyboard. And here I am trying to eat salad for lunch everyday and lose some weight… Must try this next time I’m in Paris. Stock up for the road trip to Provence.

  • By the way David, I like your Twitter updater. Where do I find the widget for that particular one?

  • …heroin. The secret yellow powder is heroin. Unless it’s crack, but then that would be a whole other recipe…

  • Sounds a lot like Neutske’s applewood smoked bacon–a small local producer in Wisconsin. I love the smell of it cooking almost as much as I love the silky, smoky taste.

  • What fabulous photos! I never bacon could look that good!

  • If you are still in Switzerland, I recommend you try the “viande des Grisons” or “rebibs.” It’s something you eat with raclette, very dry and thin slices of beef, absolutely delicious :)

  • David, this culinary student would love to know what you did with the lovely lard ribbons when you brought them home… How did you use them and in what kind of dish?

    Oh and if you just popped them in your mouth while you stood at the kitchen counter, that’s fabulous too!!

  • There is a Hungarian/Transylvanian version of bacon that looks similar to this and tastes out of this world. It’s cured and double smoked and then cooked in white wine, apple juice, sauerkraut juice or Romanian bors (google it to see what it is, it’s made of fermented wheat bran). Basically, the cooking liquid needs to have a high acidity to it. Spices are also added – garlic (lots!), coriander, all spice, cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorn, bay leaves and even a dried chili. When cooked and cooled, it’s covered in smoked paprika. Fortunately, it seems that the Hungarians who emigrated to the US and Canada brought in the science of bacon making – it’s widely available in ethnic stores and it’s as good the home-made one I had back in Transylvania a few years ago.

  • I completely understand why it was necessary to say “I do” to bacon that good. Did you could cook it with eggs when you got home?

  • Jill & Claire: This isn’t the kind of thing that you would cook, as it would lose its “specialness.”

    Dr. CaSo: You’d better believe I ate a lot of viande des Grisons in Switzerland. I love that stuff and yes, especially before fondue!

    Big City Eater: It’s something that my previous web person designed specifically for the site.

    Suzy: The first time I had that lardo, I was in heaven as well. I was in Italy (stuff always tastes better in the country where it’s produced, doesn’t it?) and someone draped very thin layers over warm grilled bread with a little olive oil and a tiny, tiny bit of rosemary. It was amazing.

  • Hi David,
    It’s “saindoux” actually. Meaning healthy and sweet? ;-)

  • I thank god I am not compelled to be a veggie. As my husband says….GO MEAT!!!

  • The bacon unsliced bacon looks like Chinese roast pork or the Filipino lechon. A messy endeavor to replicate at home since the crackling sprays grease all over the oven! The skin does come out crispy and light, but it takes too much work to degrease the oven, and the lingering smell of smokey grease in the kitchen for days! Easier to just go buy some at Tang Freres.

    Another way to eat that delicious lardo is draping thin slices over lightly toast white bread, gently melted under the broiler and drizzled with good honey. Died and went to heaven!

  • Canada exports Wyoming horsemeat to France? Am I reading that wrong?

  • As I read it, the elk and horsemeat that they sell comes from Canada. I didn’t see anything about Wyoming.

    David, did you try those meats?

  • Well, they say bacon improves most things and that certainly looks wonderful. I wouldn’t be a vegetarian if you paid me by the hour!!

  • God Love You, David Lebovitz.

  • Chandler and Molly: Yes, a majority (or all) of the horsemeat in Europe and Switzerland is from North America. I was going to try it – just because I’ve never had it and it’s somewhat popular here- until a reader who raises horses alerted me to some reasons why it’s not a good idea to eat it.

    Eelco: Fixed! I wonder if that’s the true meaning of the word/s? It certainly is soft and/or kind of sweet, but am not sure about the ‘healthy’ part ; )

    Amanda: I was a vegetarian for a number of years which was a good lesson because now when I eat meat, I appreciate it more and just don’t do it indiscriminately. The bacon (lard) could certainly convert anyone!

  • David,
    I checked and “sain” comes from medieval french meaning fat, so it’s “soft fat”

  • wow, thanks for the info on the horse meat. Thanks to you and Lee, who posted the info. You don’t find much horse meat hereabouts (Munich), but I’ve seen plenty restaurants in Switzerland that serve it and have almost been tempted to try it. Thank goodness I haven’t. I guess you really don’t have to try everything.
    Enjoy your “lard”.

  • Hi David,
    I enjoy your blog and I don’t want you to be misled about horsemeat. People get pretty worked up about it and the truth kind of gets thrown out the window by people who obviously don’t know what goes on in the industry.

    Most horsemeat from Canada is from horses that were purchased as colts or born on the farms and fattened up for slaughter. The other sources of horses are often feral or semi-domesticated animals that people can no longer take care of and are happy to sell. The least common source is old race track horses or riding horses. From the time these horses are destined for meat be it on a feedlot or in pasture there is absloutely NO administration of fly repellent (I don’t know where this info comes from). They do spray down the feedlots with WATER because in Southern Alberta it is very dry and windy and this helps to keep down the dust.

    The same regulations apply to horses than to cattle, so there can be administration of antibiotics to the animals that are sick.. There is also new regulation that animals that either have no documents concerning their past medication/illnesses or have received medication that is incompatible for human consumption (for example racetrack horses) be quarantined for 6 months before slaughter.

    The horsemeat industry is certainly not perfect but the fact that they are constantly being scrutinized (just type horseslaughter into Google!) keeps them on their toes. If you ever go to Canada, I would be happy to arrange a visit for you to see for yourself how they are raised and slaughter. Even what they eat (a mixture of alfalfa silage, barley and molasses) smells good !

  • Hi Dedel: Thanks for your comments and thoughts. I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff in other meats (and fruits, and vegetables, etc) that I/we should be avoiding, but I guess there’s also the feeling that something that comes from so far away, and isn’t something I necessarily think of for consumption, which keeps me from trying it.

    It’s always nice to hear about people raising and producing food “right.” I do find it a bit disconcerting that Europeans depend on foreign-raised horsemeat for their supply rather than have it produced in their own countries. But that’s the case with so many things nowadays I guess we should not be surprised.

    Thanks for your offer. That alfalfa, barley and molasses sounds delicious! : )

  • Looks pretty darn amazing. They also look very similar to Chinese roast pork especially with the crackled skin and layering of meat and fat underneath the skin. I wonder if they taste any bit similar to each other?

  • Only you can get away with making an erection joke when talking about bacon :)

  • Bacon in any language is divine. I wonder if the yellow powder is ground mustard? Oh, I wish I could try it!!

  • I believe I’ve had something like this lard, which makes one understand many things about lost traditions all in the first mouthful.

    However, it was not in a great restaurant, but on my neighbor’s organic farm in Brittany, in his kitchen where there was no electricity. The pig was his, raised to conveniently dispose of all the “petit lait” byproduct of his cheese making.

    The best food in France is found as close to where it was grown or raised or aged as possible!

  • Hi David. I enjoy your site and many of your books and recipes. I am about to make the Chocolate Idiot Cake for our Passover seder. I’ve never made it before but it sounds like the perfect flourless cake. However, I notice that the recipe in Ready for Dessert (which is the one I have) is different than the one on your blog. Your blog recipe has 7 oz butter, 10 oz chocolate and 5 eggs. Ready for Dessert has 8 oz butter, 12 oz chocolate and 6 eggs. Both recipes call for 1 cup sugar. Am I an idiot for asking you why the difference? Obviously the Ready for Dessert recipe is richer. But which tastes better to you? Or, is there an error in the one on-line? (I hope to hear back from you before Passover, which begins Monday evening.) Many thanks in advance for your guidance here. Jan

    The recipe was adapted for copyright reasons and the one online will be slightly shorter (and you can reduce the sugar if you wish, although the cake isn’t terribly sweet either way). Happy holiday baking! -dl

  • I am passing this link on to my mother, the bacotarian.

  • Hah! Thanks for the note at the bottom explaining that “lard” is french for bacon/pork belly… I was a little confused at first. ;) And yes, that does look seriously amazing.