Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Please pass the schmaltz

First, cue the music here.

Food is, of course, all about our culture. A cultural signifier, a reveal. Chicken fat is also known as schmaltz, which also means sentimental. Wildly sentimental. In my opinion that was due to the tremendous affection a well fed chicken and its frugally harvested chicken fat stirred in people long before the food police and moralists demonized animal fats.

We can spar with statistics, but I think of most food like this:

Son: "Is chocolate bad for you?"
Me: "If chocolate was the only thing you ate, it would be bad for you."

You could say the same about anything, including carrots.

I use schmaltz to saute rice, chicken livers, and add to matzoh meal for matzoh ball soup. One way to get it is to simply skim the fat off of your home made stock. Another way, when I'm feeling particularly frugal, like these days, is to buy those fryer chickens on special, and bring them home to butcher and make stock. The livers and fat are an extra bonus.

To render you should: gather fat from the neck and cavity. If you come across extra fat from butchering the chicken use that as well. Place in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat. Simmer until the fat is rendered; you may need to adjust the heat and add more water. If you do it right you'll have a bonus: gribenes, little pieces of chicken skin cooked brown and crisp, delicious!

Strain and cool the fat. Store it in a covered glass jar in the fridge where it will keep for months.

Need another schmaltzy music clip? I got it right here.


  1. You were definitely restless at the time.

  2. Oh I know, just because you told me to do this, I will. And who knows what kind of scientific experiments these jars will turn out to be (Nobel calibur?)

  3. Thanks 2 U, Chef, I visited one of your DineLA restaurants today. Finally made the long hike over the hill to the middle-east: Carousel Glendale.

  4. AH--ever the adventurous one!
    CO--And? Was it worth the jaunt to the middle east?

  5. Well, it was definitely much better than the current food experience I have on my blog now!
    I'll blog about the Carousel later.

  6. Ok. Maybe this is lame, but how will I know when it is rendered. What does it look like?

  7. It will be like oil, and the water will have evaporated. The only solid bits will be the skin, now transformed into cracklin's--which are on everyone's zero carb menu.
    Thanks for asking...I forget what needs clarification!