At his A&S Fine Foods in Wyckoff, New Jersey, owner and chef Angelo Competiello combines the best of Italian and American lard bread traditions to make a stuffed loaf all his own. Competiello begins by cooking fresh cuts of jowl, neck, and shoulder meat in their own fat along with a coarsely ground Italian sausage and garlic, fennel, and black pepper until this grab-bag of pork becomes a pot of shatteringly crisp cracklings. Then he stuffs this mix in a sheet of bread dough and layers in low-moisture mozzarella for a gooey, satisfying cheese pull when the loaf is pulled from the oven. At home, you could go all sausage, or all fresh pork, or use whatever cured cuts that lend themselves to maximum crispification. Serve the loaf warm as an appetizer or meal on its own, maybe by following the lead of Mazzola Bakery owner Josephine Messina’s grandmother: plating the lard bread with some warm marinara for dipping.
- In a countertop mixer with the dough hook attached, dissolve yeast in water. Add a third of the flour and mix on medium speed until a loose dough forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Add remaining flour and mix on medium high speed until the dough forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add salt and continue to mix until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes, pulling dough off hook as needed. Once the dough is well mixed, slowly drizzle in olive oil until fully incorporated. Cover and let dough rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour, or, for best results, in a well oiled pan in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
- Heat oven to 450ºF with a rack placed in the middle. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out on top. Knead several times to redistribute any large air pockets, then press the dough into a flat, elongated oval that’s ¼ inch thick. Spread half of the cheese on the dough from end to end, followed by the cracklings, then the remaining cheese. Roll the dough up like a burrito: fold the long ends in a bit, then, holding them in place, roll from the edge closest to you up and over the folded edges, pinching the dough together to seal.
- Place the rolled loaf on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, seam side down. Whisk the egg with 2 tablespoons of water to form an egg wash and brush the loaf with the wash, for color. Using a sharp knife, make 3 to 4 diagonal slits along the loaf to let steam escape. Bake until the loaf is firm with good browned coloring and the cheese bubbles through the slits, 12 to 14 minutes. Let bread rest for 6 to 8 minutes before serving.