Make German Pork Schmalz with Cracklings (Griebenschmalz)

Schmalz
Thorsten Kraska/Moment/Getty Images
Ratings (24)
  • Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 1 to 2 cups (8-16 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
134 Calories
8g Fat
0g Carbs
15g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 to 2 cups (8-16 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 134
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 49mg 16%
Sodium 52mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 15g
Calcium 12mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

German schmalz is rendered animal fat and griebenschmalz is rendered animal fat to which cracklings have been added. Pork is the most common schmalz in Germany and other parts of Europe (it is known as smalec in Poland), while schmalz made from chicken or goose fat is the most common among Ashkenazi Jews.

Schmalz, also written as schmaltz and shmalz, is most often used as a bread spread, instead of butter. While it sounds strange to the uninitiated, a layer of schmalz, sprinkled with salt on top of fresh, German bread is heavenly.

Schmalz is used in a multitude of ways in the German kitchen. It is layered over potted meats, stirred into cabbage dishes, and used for browning onions. Often eaten with the cracklings left in, where it is known as griebenschmalz. Schmalz can also be flavored with apples and onions.

Schmalz is better than bacon fat for many things because it does not add salt to a dish. While high-quality schmalz and griebenschmalz can be purchased in Europe, it is harder to find in the U.S. You can make your own schmalz with a little time and a few pounds of pork fat, by following this recipe. Once you make it, you'll see how versatile an ingredient schmalz can be.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fat trimmings (from pork)
  • Optional: 1 apple
  • Optional: 1 onion
  • Optional: salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut fat trimmings into small pieces (1/4 inch square). If they still have a little meat on them, that is fine.

  2. Place trimmings in a large skillet with high sides over low to medium heat. You may use a lid at any time to help them heat up but do not use a nonstick pan.

  3. Heat and stir until the trimmings start to melt. Continue to heat and stir for 1 hour or more, until the pieces turn into brown cracklings (grieben).

  4. If you are adding the apple and onion, peel them both, finely chop, and add at this time. Keep cooking the fat until the apple starts to turn golden brown, 15 minutes or more.

  5. You can add salt if you wish, but it is more common to salt the rendered fat when spread on bread just before consumption.

  6. Pour into a crock for storage. Do not use glass as the hot fat could cause it to shatter. If you would like smooth schmalz, pour it through a sieve or even cheesecloth to remove all the browned bits. Cool completely.

  7. Keep the lard in a cool spot. It will keep for many weeks unrefrigerated and even longer when refrigerated.

  8. If you don't combine the cracklings with the schmalz, you might want to save them to use in soups or bean pots. Freeze them in a plastic zip-top bag patting down until the contents are about 1 inch thick. Then just break off what you need and return the rest to the freezer.