Smalec, the Polish's Best Friend

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About: I'm currently studying Coastal Engineering, I'm crazy for miniatures and dioramas, and I see a opportunity of improvement in every broken thing.

Smalec is the Polish word for lard, the main ingredient of this culinary wonder. This traditional Polish recipe will give you the chance to experience a whole new dimension of flavours. Its versatility will allow you to incorporate it to many cookings and it is easy to make. So let's get started!

Step 1: Ingredients

250g Pork fatback, better if already salted

250g Bacon, better if smoked

300g Onion, better if it is sweet

250g Acid Apple

1 tbsp Marjeram

Salt

Step 2: Phase 1

- Cut the fatback and bacon into 5-7mm dice.

- Distribute them uniformly in a non-stick pan. Set the stove at medium-low temperature (3-4 in a scale from 1 to 10). The fatback and bacon will start to melt. In order not to overheat (burn) the ingredients, this process must be carried out slowly, which will be 2-3 hours for the quantities in this recipe. If the temperature is too high the fatback dice may burst!

- Stir the mix every 10-15 minutes to prevent it from getting burnt. Both ingredients will get a golden hue as you cook them but they should never get toasted (dark brown). The bacon will reduce it's sice to 3-4mm.

- At about 20 minutes from the beginning, the fatback and bacon will start releasing water. It will appear floating in the surface in the form of foam, which will evaporate by itself, so no action is needed regarding this foam.

- Do not add any salt in this phase. Salt does not dilute in the fat and it will end up at the bottom of the recipient.

- After 3-4 hours, you will obtain a mix of the molten fatback and golden bacon bits.

Step 3: Phase 2

- As the ingredients of phase 1 are cooking, chop the onion in 5-7 mm dice.

- After a couple of hours, when the fatback has molten, put 4-5 tablespoons of it in another pan with the onion. The onion will be confited in this fat.

- Add some salt.

- Confit the onion for 30 minutes at medium heat (5-6/10).

- Dice the apple into 5-7mm pieces and add it to the confited onion.

- Keep confiting the apple until it becomes soft but not so much that it comes apart.

- Add the marjeram and confit for another 5 minutes.

Step 4: Phase 3

- Put the preparations from phases 1 and 2 together.

- Keep the mix at very low temperature (2-3/10) for 15-20 minutes for the flavours to be combined.

- Transfer the warm mix to a clay pan and let it cool down. The liquid fat will now become lard.

Step 5: Frequent Ways of Enjoying It

There are endless possibilities for Smalec. Here, the most common are gathered:

- Slice of bread with smalec.

- Slice of bread with smalec and onion chives.

- Slice of bread with smalec and pickles (2nd picture).

- Sauce for pierogi, ravioli or gnocchi.

- Base for scrambled eggs (3rd picture).

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    5 Discussions

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    always curious

    6 weeks ago

    My mother also made this but without the apple. She fried onions and would mix it into the pork fat as it was cooling. Also said that taste was better if pork was from a female pig. Spread on some rye bread it was absolutely delicious, or for frying eggs or cold potatoes - my mouth is salivating! I suppose if health is an issue, cook this and enjoy, but do not eat any butter/dripping etc until all the pork is gone?

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    BrandyW13

    Question 8 weeks ago

    I never eat any pork or pork products and i like the idea but wonder if it can also be done with lamb/beef product instead.

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    Phoghat

    8 weeks ago on Step 5

    Potrzebuje trochę skwarki

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    jedikitty

    8 weeks ago on Step 3

    Ahh, this one brings back so many memories... Smalec is a staple in every Polish kitchen. My grandmother was a great cook, and would make smalec (without apple) often, and the whole family enjoyed it. She also used it as a base to fry pork chops in, and to brown cubed beef for stew. It brings the flavor to an entirely new level.

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    jessyratfink

    2 months ago

    Oh wowwwww that sounds so delicious :)