Smalec is a tasty – probably fairly unhealthy – dish enjoyed by many Poles. Spread thickly on crusty fresh bread it’s a favourite dish served in many homes, especially during the colder months of the year.

This traditional Polish dish is produced by rendering pork fat down and allowing to cool. Sometimes before it sets bits of sausage, fried bacon, diced gherkin, or chopped apple are added. But smalec is basically pure and simple lard (dripping). Sprinkled with some salt and/or some diced, crunchy pork crackling prior to eating smalec is absolutely delicious. Does need to thoroughly ‘washed down’ with a nice cup of black tea, preferably with lemon, though!

Although my father makes smalec for the our entire extended family it can also be bought as a commercial paste. Popular brands include: Morliny, Pikok, Profi, Rusiecki and Skwierzyna.

Interesting historical note: A Jewish version of Smalec was once made with chicken or goose fat instead of the usual pork fat. This was called schmalz.

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