Smalec [smah-lets] is a dish made of rendered pork fat with onions and spices. It is spread on bread and topped with onions or pickles. The recipe is as old as the old country and there is a reason why it survived through all the turbulences in Polish history. For centuries, it was a cheap and substantial meal for the working class, and a creative way of using ALL of the meat. AND it’s just plainly delicious. It also became somewhat of a symbol of Polish hospitality. I’ve seen many traditional Polish restaurants serve it as a free starter.
- 2 lbs of pork fat
- 0.5 lbs of raw bacon (preferably unsmoked)
- 4 medium onions (about 2 cups chopped)
- 2 tart apples
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbs marjoram
- 1/4 tsp caraway seed
- Have your butcher course grind the pork fat, if possible. Dice bacon. Set a large pot to a medium heat and add just the pork fat. Render until all white is liquid and the bits start turning brown. This may take about 30-45 min.
- Then add bacon and continue rendering until bacon bits start browning, for another 30 minutes or so.
- In the mean time dice onions and shred the apples. When bacon bits are starting to brown, add onions and apples. Sauté until onions are nicely golden brown.
- Finally, at the end add minced garlic, pepper, salt, marjoram and caraway seeds, stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Transfer to jars or decorative dishes and set aside to cool completely. Refrigerate. It will stay fresh in the fridge for weeks.
Serve with good quality bread. Top with slices of pickles and/or fresh onions.