Pork Fatback


Pork fatback is a staple in traditional cuisine of the southern United States. As its name suggests, the cut comes from the pig's back -- a strip of about an inch thick situated between the skin and the meat. Pork fatback can be used to make lard and fried pork rinds, or it can be cut thin and wrapped around other pieces of meat or used in terrine and pate molds.


Other names: Pork Back Fat, Pork Rinds, Lard
Translations: Cūkgaļas Fatback, Kiaulienos riebi nugarinė, Slănină de porc, Svinjski Fatback, Heo Fatback, Wieprzowina słoniny, Varkensvlees Fatback, पोर्क Fatback, Свинина Fatback, Χοιρινό Fatback, لحم الخنزير Fatback, 돼지고기 Fatback, Vepřové maso bůček, Baboy Fatback, 猪肉膘, Carn de porc Fatback, Svinjina Fatback, Bravčové mäso bôčik, Maiale Fatback, חזיר Fatback, Fläskkött Fatback, Свињетина Фатбацк, 豚肉ファットバック, Porc Fatback, Svinekød Fatback, Svinekjøtt Fatback, Carne de cerdo Fatback, Свинина Fatback, Sianliha Fatback, Свински Fatback

Physical Description

Fatback is a cut of pork, typically taken off the back of a pig. Its name perfectly describes it. This cut of flesh is virtually all fat, and can be used very much like bacon. Yet unlike bacon, fatback contains very little to absolutely no meat, and in uncooked form resembles all-white strips of bacon.

Colors: white

Tasting Notes

Flavors: smoky, fatty, umami
Mouthfeel: Smooth, Velvety
Food complements: Collard greens, Black eyed peas, Stewed vegetables
Substitutes: Salt port

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: A primal cut is a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass during butchering. Different countries and cultures make these cuts in different ways, and primal cuts also differ between type of carcass. The British, American and French primal cuts all differ in some respects. A notable example is fatback, which in Europe is an important primal cut of pork, but in North America is regarded as trimmings to be used in sausage or rendered into lard. The primal cuts may be sold complete or cut further.

Preparation and Use

It may flavor dishes like collard greens, be strained to make lard, fried into crispy strips called cracklings, or used to wrap around other types of meat to retain freshness, called barding.
One of the most well known uses of fatback is rendering it into lard, which is where the fat has been melted to remove impurities and then re-set, producing the snow-white shortening beloved by bakers, potato-roasters, and other fans of the delicious. Cured with spiced salt mixtures and left to hang, fatback turns into the highly prized Italian all-fat salume lardo (try it on pizza, famously, at a number of Mario Batali's restaurants). The French like to use fatback to enrich terrines and pâtés, or cut into ribbons and added to game birds under the skin to protect the lean meat. The French also practice a technique called, literally, larding, where strips of pork fat are actually sown into meat with a specialized needle. Pork rinds, scratchings, cracklings, and chicharrones can all be made by deep frying fatback until the attached skin becomes golden brown and crunchy.


History: As the US became more industrialized, particularly during the Civil War, more often only the choice cuts of pork were eaten. The South, still recovering from the Civil War needed to make use of whatever it could, and thus fatback became associated with southern US cuisine. In fact, it may be difficult to find fatback in many of the northern and western states. You can usually order it from your butcher, or many Latin American grocery stores may also carry fatback.

Fatback is not exclusive to American recipes. Medieval Europe had many recipes using fatback, and certain foods from all over the world, like pork sausages, may use chopped fatback. Salo is a popular Eastern European use of fatback. Preparation of salo does involve smoking and curing the fatback, and often covering it with paprika. It may be used to flavor other dishes, eaten sliced as deli meat, and made into a dish similar to cracklings.



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