Czech Food Classics: Pork crackling spread
Pork crackling spread, or škvarková pomazánka, is a side dish you are sure to find in nearly every Czech pub. The spread, made of ground pork cracklings, lard and finely chopped onion, is usually served on a slice of bread. While not exactly a healthy choice, it does taste rather delicious, especially when paired with a cold glass of beer.
Pork meat is the foundation of many Czech traditional dishes, including roast pork knee or vepřo knedlo zelo - pork roast with dumplings and sauerkraut, considered to be the Czech national meal.
One of the smaller delicacies made of pork lard are škvarky or cracklings, the by-product of rendering lard. What remains at the end of the process of melting pork fat are pieces of meat that have been fried until brown and crispy.
Cracklings can be eaten on their own, or salted or seasoned with spices, but most Czechs prefer to make them into a delicious spread, known as škvarková pomazánka.
Although not strictly a Czech meal, pork crackling spread enjoys great popularity in Czechia and is a staple item on the menus of both high-end and low-end restaurants and pubs.
The renowned Czech chef Roman Paulus has shared his favourite recipe for pork crackling spread with Czech Radio:
“While some people grind the cracklings, I prefer to use an electric food processor to cut them up just a bit. I don’t mind if there are some larger parts. I season the chopped shavings with mustard and add a chopped hard-boiled egg.
“I also mix in a little bit of the lard to give the spread the right consistency, and some finely chopped spring onions. I season it with salt, because the cracklings are usually unsalted in order to stay crispy. Finally, I thoroughly mix all the ingredients.”
Škvarková pomazánka comes in endless varieties. While some people, like Roman Paulus, mix it with mustard, others prefer to blend it with finely chopped red onion or pickles, or to add some spicy ingredients, such as Tabasco or chilli peppers.
What is important though, is to serve the spread on a good quality bread, says Mr. Paulus:
“Ideally, serve the spread on a slice of freshly baked bread or on toasted bread. You could also use white bread, but I myself would always recommend the classic Czech Šumava.
“I would keep some of the spring onions aside and sprinkle them on top or garnish it with a slice of hard-boiled egg. I think it is definitely something you will enjoy.”
While the process of making homemade pork cracklings is not that complicated, it is rather time-consuming. That’s why most Czechs today prefer to eat this dish in a pub, washing it down with a glass or two of beer.
Czech Food Classics
What is the typical Czech dish? Is it schnitzel, goulash, svíčková (marinated sirloin), or buchty (buns)? What are the defining traits of Czech culinary heritage?