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23 June 2009

Schmaltz

Never has the dichotomy of good food and bad health been greater than in the case of schmaltz - rendered chicken fat.

To me, it is the very essence of bad good food.  You know it's not healthy, but you also know that an ingredient that adds this much flavour to whatever it touches has to be very good indeed.

And so it is.  Let it near an onion and it will be the sweetest onion you've ever tasted.  It can turn a chicken liver into the consistency of cream and the oi, we shouldn't talk of the things it can do to chicken skin to make the delight of gribenes.

As an aside: do non-kosher butchers charge for chicken fat?  Kosher ones do and I've an inkling non-kosher don't.  Now that my friends is a chutzpah.  As a further aside, can I point out that being spelled with a ch- chutzpah is pronounced as though it is an h.  Please stop saying chootzpar, as in choo-choo, and start saying hootspah, with a slightly guttural 'h' at the start. 

Returning to the matters at hand.  It couldn't be easier to make schmaltz and I'm not sure if this even counts as a recipe.  But here goes enough to make chopped liver for 6.

  • 250g chicken fat

Put the chicken fat into a pan with a tight fitting lid.  Turn on the heat relatively low and let it melt away until you are left with liquid.  You need the lid because it spits insanely and getting burned with chicken fat is not a pleasant experience - nor is cleaning it up from your ceiling.

It could take 20 minutes or so to fully render. 

You can then store the liquid, ideally frozen as it is chicken remember, or preferably use straight away.

If you're very lucky, there will be bits of skin left in the fat - they won't melt - that will have turned golden brown.  Best eaten quickly with a cold beer and smug grin.

Comments

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Just discovering your blog and I love it! I grew up in a Jewish home though as a first generation non-kosher. My dad made the best chopped liver! Your post is bringing it all back!

Thanks Jamie, keep coming back.

You just have to be careful not to confuse "Schmaltz" with "Schmalz" when in German speaking countries. Here is Germany Schmalz is made from either pork - Schweineschmalz - or geese - Gänzeschmalz. I have never seen it made from chicken fat.

Cheers,
Kimberly

Thanks Kimberly, isn't schmaltz just fat?

That does NOT sound appealing. Why in the world do you need to eat it quickly? Because its so nasty?

@CindiaChambers thanks for the comment. The reasons for eating it quickly are so that others don't eat it, because when it's hot and crisp it's at its best and because it's downright delicious.

You know, in Russia they have Schmalz - it pronounces like "smalec" - it is fat for spreading.

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