rendered pork fat - smalecAgain with the rendered bacon... Yes and I think there will be more where this came from 'cause now the possibilities are endless. Smalec started of as a simple way for poor folk to preserve some bacon fat. Somebody added onions and it was better, somebody added apples and it was better still. I live in Southern California not far from the ocean and apples don't grow in my yard but mangoes do and so could peaches and apricots and nectarines and... Came up with this smalec variation out of necessity and it worked out real nice for me and the futur of smalec production everywhere.

It was one of those brain farts. I was going to make another batch of traditional smalec. I had already bought my pound of fatty bacon and onions. Had it all chopped and ready to go but when I went to get the apples that I was sure were in the fruit bowl — the bowl was empty except for a nectarine and some apricots. I could have sworn there was a pound of apples in there this morning. Oh well, necessity and laziness are the mother and father of invention and I ended up making a SoCal version of rendered pork fat and onions - Mmm, Mmm, good.

Smalec is such an easy yet manly and satisfying dish. For this version you will need:

  • 1 pound of fatty bacon — if it's too meaty you will end up with a lot of crispy bits and not enough spread.
  • 1 pound of onions — I use regular yellow onions but other varieties will work just fine.
  • ½ pound of peeled fruit — in this case it was a few apricots and a nectarine. It's important to peel the fruit because the skins will not melt into the pork fat like the fruit flesh will. You'll end up with nasty skin bits stuck between your teeth.
1 pound of bacon all chopped up Pork is already rendered so in go the onions. Half pound of fruit — a nectarine and some apricots.
My 1 pound of bacon all chopped up. Pork is already rendered so in go the onions. Half pound of SoCal fruit — a nectarine and some apricots.
Bubble, bubble porky goodness. Use a wooden spoon to help the fruit dissolved into the rendered bacon. Once you are happy with the texture turn of the heat and let your smalec cool.
Bubble, bubble porky goodness. Use a wooden spoon to help the fruit dissolved into the rendered bacon. Once you are happy with the texture turn of the heat and let your smalec cool.

Chop up your pound of bacon and put it in a heavy pot. Set the heat to the lowest setting possible, cover and go to the refrigerator and have yourself a nice tall beer. This takes a while. As long as your heat is low you don't have much to worry about but you do need to give the bubbling bacon a stir from time to time. If you let the meaty bits stick to the bottom of the pot you'll end up with burnt, bitter tasting smalec. Few things can spoil a weekend like burnt bacon.

While you are waiting and sipping your beer make yourself useful and chop up the pound of onions. Once all or at least most of the pork fat has rendered (melted) drop in the onions, give the mixture a stir, cover and have another beer. Relax but don't forget to give your smalec an occasional stir. After a while the onions will literally melt into the bacon.

Now it's time for the fruit. Peel the apricots and nectarine or whatever fruit you are using. The skins will not dissolve into the bacon fat like the flesh of the fruit and you will end up with nasty skin bits stuck between your teeth. Chop up the peeled fruit and drop it into the bubbly onion and bacon mix and give it a stir. Time for your third beer.

Keep cooking and stirring till the fruit dissolves. Towards the end you can help the process along by mushing the stubborn bits of fruit against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. How much effort you want to put into getting a smooth smalec is up to you. I prefer mine on the chunky side or maybe I'm just lazy. When you are ready turn of the heat and let the smalec cool.

I keep my smalec in the refrigerator in an old ceramic, Chinese, preserved cabbage jar. Didn't think all that much of the cabbage but the jar is wonderful.

I really like the way this smalec turned out. It doesn't taste like apricots or nectarines and it lacks the sharp acidity of the apple based version but it has a wonderful, esoteric, soft sweetness to it and a delightful, cheerful color. And don't get all panicky about clogging up your arteries either. This fruitified version of rendered pork fat isn't all that bad for you. Check out the nutritional values I posted with the traditional smalec recipe.

SoCal smalec, a slice of home made bread and a glass of home made kwas, served in the shade of my bamboo on a warm California afternoon while enjoying a fine ocean breez — man I love SoCal.

SoCal smalec, home made bread, glass of kwas — makes for a satisfying afternoon snack.

 

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