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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About Miriyummy

All I want to do is live happily ever after.

Posted on 2 July 2010, in Chicken, Family Life, Jewish cooking, Passover and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Oh boy! My DH would give anything to just have the gribenes. : )

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  2. The gribenes were always my least favorite part, I go for the onion. A piece of caraway rye bread, spread with shmaltz, salt and pepper and then the onions on top, mmmmmm As my mother would have said, “Geshmak!”

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  3. How could I forget about the onions. Had them at a restaurant in Montreal years ago. Heaven! It brought back many wonderful memories for my DH. I just read to him how you eat the onions…….he’s drooling! : )

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  4. naomishosh

    Oy Mirj – just LOOKING at the grebenes makes me salivate, but my arteries are are closing up! Would loooooove to be able to eat grebenes in a chopped liver sandwich. Mmm good! Shabbat SHalom!

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  5. Mirj, I would have to disagree with you, the best way to eat gribenes is hot out of the pan while it is nice and crunchy….yummy, as the arteries go AAAAACK!!!! Loved this one.

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  6. oh mirj, excellent read and i love the connection to your mama. think about *your* beautiful girls reading this and making shmaltz for their little ones and, of course, for *you!* love it!

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  7. Not my ethnic background, but another excellent read.

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