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In Cooking, what is Barding?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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When meat is wrapped in strips of fat while it cooks, the practice is called barding. Barding helps to keep meat moist while it cooks, and also imparts flavor. A related practice, larding, involves inserting pure fat into a cut of meat with the assistance of special tools. Whether barding or larding, the result is a rich, flavorful cut of meat which is also moist and tender.

Bacon and fatback are two cuts of meat commonly used as barding. Fatback is exactly what it sounds like; it is a fatty cut from the back of a pig. Any meat rich in fat will work as barding, however, with darker fats like goose and duck lending a distinct flavor to the meats they are cooked with. The barding is often seasoned as well, to further flavor the meat.

The meat which is most often barded is poultry, because poultry tends to dry out during the cooking process. By wrapping the breast of a bird in bacon or fatback, the cook can ensure that the meat stays tender and moist. As the barding cooks, the fat will render out, trickling through the meat. In a sense, barding is an automatic basting system. When the meat is close to done, the barding is usually removed to allow the meat to brown.

Other meats can also be wrapped in fatty cuts. Bacon wrapped meat is a popular grill item, for example, since grills can cause meat to dry out. The subject of barding also does not have to be meat. Bacon wrapped fruits and vegetables such as pears and artichokes are distinctly delicious. Barding can be used for grilling, roasts, and broiling on everything from fish to acorn squash.

Larding is accomplished by inserting a hollow needle into a cut of meat. The hollow of the needle is filled with fat, which is left behind when the larding needle is withdrawn. As the name implies, larding typically uses lard, rendered fat from pigs, but other fats could be used as well. Often, the fat used in larding is seasoned, so that it will slowly release flavors into the core of the meat as the meat is cooked.

Barding and larding are both useful techniques to have in your cooking repertoire, especially if you struggle with dry roasts. Experimentation with different fats and seasonings can also yield a wide range of results.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1005849 — On Dec 04, 2021

This is a good technique, but it does not let fat "trickle through the meat." This is not possible. Fat molecules cannot soak into meat under any circumstances. What barding does is protect the surface from heat; especially useful to protect the breast while the dark meat comes to temperature. White meat dries out much more quickly and should be cooked to a lower temp.

And if you use bacon, you'll get a little smoked flavor on the surface and in the pan drippings, and some of the salt will infuse into the meat.

If you just care about using barding to get a bird cooked perfectly, you can use foil instead of fat.

By Valencia — On May 17, 2011

@Acracadabra - One of my favorite party snacks is pear with goat cheese in the hollow and bacon wrapped around it. Believe me, you'd be a convert if you tried this dish!

Think of the bacon doing the same job with a harder fruit or vegetable that it does on your meat. I like the way it softens it without having to use lots of liquid.

The sweet-savory combination works great with an apple and hard cheese, so why not bacon and fruit?

By Acracadabra — On May 15, 2011

Bacon has got to be the most versatile of meats, don't you think? I always use it to keep our seasonal turkey moist, and I know it's equally good with pheasant.

I'm less convinced about matching bacon and fruit! I've managed to resist bacon chocolate and bacon ice-cream for the same reason.

By Penzance356 — On May 14, 2011

My grandmother taught me all I know about cooking, including the larding-barding techniques. I much prefer barding as it protects the meat and stops it burning. To get it brown you can easily remove the fat for the last part of cooking.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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