Daily Archives: 2 July 2010

Shmaltz — The Sequel

Glorious Shmaltz

Back in May, for Mother’s Day, I posted an homage to my mother, who passed away in October 2009.  At that time I referenced a recipe for shmaltz, but wrote that I don’t even have a picture to show you, since I don’t make it anymore.  Well, I’ve started making shmaltz recently.  I can hear God chuckling in the background, and I can hear my arteries hardening as well, but what a way to go!

I just made a batch.  Ju-boy, a self-proclaimed parsimonious bastard, refuses to buy our chickens cut up by the butcher in the supermarket, saying they taste better if you roast them whole.  He skins the chickies (yes, we roast our chickens naked) and gets rid of every available scrap of fat.  Usually he tosses the chicken dross into the sink, intending to clean it out, usually ADD-ing on to some new project, leaving me to clean the sink (actually, he’s gotten better at this lately, so pretend I didn’t just say what I did).  But for the last two weeks I’ve appealed to the parsimonious side of the Parsimonious Bastard, and convinced him that I should channel my mother and make some shmaltz. 

So for all of you that haven’t been grossed out by the idea of rendered chicken fat, read on…

Shmaltz

  • chicken fat, cleaned from 3 chickens
  • chicken skin (optional, only if you like the gribenes, the cracklings, so to speak) 
  • 1 large onion
  • salt, to taste

Cut up the chicken fat into 1 inch chunks. Cut the skin into pieces, about the same size as the fat. Cut the onion into quarters, and then into slices. Do not mince the onion.

In a heavy, preferably non-stick pot, place the chicken fat and the skin. Over a medium-high fire, let it cook until the fat has melted and the skin is beginning to get golden brown. Add the onion and the salt (you decide how much).  Once you add the onions, don’t leave the pot alone. Mix frequently to avoid sticking and buring. Keep cooking until the onions are a gorgeous golden brown color and the skin pieces are dark brown (but not black).

The skin has now turned into something heavenly called gribenes.

Remove the pot from the flame.

Let cool and then strain the mixture into a glass or metal bowl.

Pat the gribenes with a paper towel.

You can now pour the cooled shmaltz into a jar and keep it indefinitely in the fridge or freezer.

Keep the gribenes separate from the shmaltz in another jar.

Your shmaltz is now ready to be used in matzo balls, kugels, chopped liver, and for frying.  Gribenes are best eaten in a sandwich with chopped liver, or sprinkled on the chopped liver as an edible garnish.

The shmaltz you see in the photos was made about a half hour ago.  The aroma of the shmaltz being rendered together with the onion took me back to the Friday mornings of my childhood, the kitchen steamy and aromatic with all the wonderful things my mother was cooking.  They say smell can invoke the strongest memories.  This morning, in my own kitchen, I so remembered my mom.  And I miss her.

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