A larding needle is used to insert small, cold strips of seasoned pork fat, called either lardons or lardoons, into a raw roast of meat, poultry, or game to provide internal basting while the roast cooks. The lardons, which melt somewhat as the temperature of the meat increases, add both flavor and tenderness to the roast.
Also known as a larder or lardoir, the larding needle is a long (anywhere from 6 to 12 inches), rather thick, stainless steel skewer with a point at one end for piercing meat. At the other end is a wooden or metal handle. The body of the needle is hollow and open along one side, so it acts as a trough. The method is to lay a lardon in the trough and push the larding needle all the way through the meat, going with the grain. If all works according to plan, the lardon will stay in the meat as you draw the needle back out. You then repeat this process every couple of inches along the length of the roast—which is just what we did in the test kitchen.
We cooked three eye of round beef roasts side-by-side, one larded using the needle, the second larded by the common method of inserting the fat into slits made on the surface of the meat with a sharp paring knife, and the third unadorned. The needle allowed us to dispense with this task much more easily and quickly than the paring knife did, and the resulting meat was more tender and flavorful because the lardons were inserted deep into the roast rather into the surface only. Not surprisingly, both larded roasts were superior to their plain counterpart.
Other versions of the larding needle are curved, while some include a clip to hold the lardon. Kitchen Arts (161 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116; 617-266-8701) sells the type pictured above for $6.95 each, plus $6.00 for shipping and handling. Incidentally, that shipping cost covers up to 12 needles, in case you want to order a few spares. You can also find larding needles at Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop at www.fantes.com.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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