Hello Nigella and Team. I made the Carbonnade A La Flamande and "dried allspice" was listed. I wasn't sure whether it referred to dried allspice berries or ground allspice? Also, I used bacon instead of lardons. I have read a lot of confusing and differing opinions about whether they are interchangeable. What is your view? Thank you very much!
Nigella's Carbonnade A La Flamande (from KITCHEN) is a Belgian-style beef stew made with dark beer. It is flavoured with allspice and thyme and the allspice is ground, not whole berries. If you wish to grind your own then you will need approximately 3/4 teaspoon of berries and bear in mind that freshly ground spices tend to be more pungent so you will need to use a little less freshly-ground spice.
Lardons are cut from belly of pork that has been cured. They are chunks approximately 2.5cm (1 inch) long and about 3-5mm (1/4 inch) thick, so that the lardons crisp on the outside but stay slightly soft in the centre when they cook. Usually lardons are dry cured and not smoked. However if you can't find lardons then you could make your own by cutting up bacon (in the UK streaky bacon), unsmoked or smoked, according to your preference. Try to use dry cured bacon as this will let out less liquid as it cooks. Ideally you would cut the lardons from an unsliced slab of bacon, as most bacon is sliced too thinly for lardons (they will be more like allumettes de lardons, which are a skinnier, "matchstick" version) but if you need to use sliced bacon keep an eye on the strips of bacon as they fry, so that they don't become too crisp. Cubetti di pancetta could also be used as a substitute for lardons.