Friday, 15 July 2016

Salo (szalonna)

What is salo?

Salo is salted, unrendered pork fat. It is called szalonna in Hungary and a vital ingredient to many if not all traditional dishes. The skin is left on and the fat (the adipose tissue that is deposited just under the skin) is heavily salted (preserved in salt only), sometimes also smoked (the rind is usually golden colour in this case), sometimes seasoned with paprika.

Salo has little or no meat, it can be consumed raw or cooked (the fat is boiled and after the cooking it flavoured with ground paprika and crushed garlic) or roasted over the open fire. This latter is a great summer tradition (was one of my favourite) needing an open fire, bread slices, onions and salo, Layering bread slices with raw onion rings, spearing a piece of salo, holding over a dying out type of fire, letting it sizzle and drip with fat, holding it over the bread, holding it over the fire again, repeating the process until the bread and onions are well saturated with the hot fat. It may be peasants' food but tasty like no other.

Salo is a great ingredient in dishes like soups and stews. It gives flavour to roasted meat or sauteed veg. Goes well as a topping for noodles and dumplings, and delicious even in baked sweet pasty. Traditional Hungarian dishes starts with fry the salo over medium heat, then add ground paprika to the rendered fat... like one foot and the other, to keep the recipe 'going' you need these two ingredients. No paprika on AIP but you still get the inviting taste of the salo enriching your dishes.

No salo? No problem. Making salo takes time and practice so I suggest using plain, fresh pork fat instead. The taste will be different but you will know that it is unprocessed and natural. If you can get your hands on properly made, only-salt-ingredient salo do not hesitate to try it. Happy cooking!

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