Smalec is a traditional and totally wonderful Polish preparation for pork lard. Andrew Tyrrell, a friend and talented chef, first made it for me and this is his recipe. You can use other herbs, but marjoram or oregano work best. 

makes 4 jars

1kg white pork fat (flare fat, back fat or a mixture)

200g bacon (smoked is especially good), diced

2 large onions, peeled and finely diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into fine slivers

A small bunch of marjoram or oregano, leaves only, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Equipment 4 x 200ml jars (optional) 


Either mince the fat or finely dice it by hand; dicing gives a little extra texture to the smalec.

Put the fat into a heavy-based saucepan and place over a low heat to start to melt it, stirring from time to time. The low heat is important (Andrew gets told off by his Polish mother-in-law for trying to rush this bit).

Once the fat is melting nicely, add the bacon, onions and garlic and continue cooking on the lowest possible heat until the bacon starts to go a little crisp, the onion is soft, and the smell is irresistible.

Season generously with salt and pepper and add the chopped marjoram or oregano. Pot into sterilised jars or a suitable serving crock or dish and allow to set, then place in the fridge. It will keep in jars in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

To serve, take a large slice of freshly baked bread, spread generously with smalec and season with flaky salt. Take the second slice with a proper dill pickle, have a shot or two of vodka and continue until satisfied.