Bar Lourinhã’s lardo soldiers are one of Melbourne’s great snacks – it’s a dish so simple it almost doesn’t deserve to taste this good. What is essentially just a thin slice of pork, bread, oil and seasoning somehow becomes a transcendent drinking accompaniment. It’s dishes like this that have solidified Bar Lourinhã’s reputation as one of Melbourne’s most treasured wine bars for more than 10 years.

“I love these soldiers wrapped in lardo as soon as they leave the grill. The fat gently softens and is absorbed by the bread,” Bar Lourinhã co-owner and executive chef Matt McConnell tells Broadsheet. “Great butchers that stock quality smallgoods should have lardo. If not, fine slices of flat belly pancetta will do.

“This recipe is based on a dish we had in Barcelona at a bar called El Xampanyet. We went in because we saw an old guy working behind the bar. In Spain now, a lot of bars are made to look old so it’s sometimes tricky to tell if they’re a chain or if they’ve been there for 50 years. Hot tip: a chain won’t hire someone who’s 70 years old to work behind the bar.”

Bar Lourinhã’s Lardo Soldiers
Makes 12 pieces

2⁄3 loaf square sourdough, preferably at least one day old
100ml garlic oil
5g fine salt
12 slices lardo, sliced very thin
Chilli salt to serve
½ tbsp lemon thyme leaves, to serve
Olive oil, for drizzling

Using a sharp knife, remove the crusts from the loaf and slice the bread into soldiers, about 2cm x 2cm.

Douse the bread in the garlic oil and salt and place on a hot grill or in a hot chargrill pan. Grill all four sides until evenly charred, then remove from the grill and immediately wrap the soldiers in the lardo.

Place on a serving plate and sprinkle over the chilli salt, thyme leaves and a heavy drizzle of olive oil.

This is an edited extract from Eat At The Bar by Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $50 and is available in stores nationally.