What is Pesto Modenese?
Pesto Modenese (also called lardo pesto) is a simple condiment made from nothing more than rosemary, garlic, and cured pork fat.
Colloquially known as cunza, Modenese Pesto hails from the north Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Just like the official pesto recipe, this sauce contains a generous amount of garlic but that is where the similarities end.
The most striking ingredient in this largely white sauce is lardo which is pork belly fat. Unlike most other pestos which people tend to pair with pasta, this Modenese creation is traditionally eaten with a special kind of bread called tigelle and sprinkled with Parmesan.
English muffins or flatbreads make for perfectly good alternatives. Just make sure to warm your bread all the way through as the having the lardo melt into the bread is essential to this street food's decadence.
You can find pesto Modenese for sale in some high-end delis, but it’s so easy to rustle up that there's no reason not to make it yourself.
Reach for a food processor if you really want to, but the essential oils in the rosemary and garlic will be released much better by using a pestle and mortar.
Simply peel the garlic cloves, remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and finely chop. Add to a pestle and mortar and work the ingredients until it has reached your preferred consistency. We like to keep it a little chunky but continue working it if you prefer a smoother mouthfeel.
Add the pork fat and work for a minute or two longer and serve immediately on some warm, crusty bread.