My friends, family and even random Facebook buddies all know that I love using schmaltz. But the most frequent question I receive on the topic: how should I use leftover chicken fat?
Let’s start at the beginning.
First, what is schmaltz and how do you make it? Schmaltz is most commonly chicken fat, but can also be duck fat (my favorite) or goose fat (even better). You can buy chicken fat in most grocery stores or butcher shops, but it is also very easy to make.
Most Jews I know use their schmaltz once per year, when they make chopped liver. I will admit: I love having an excuse to go a little schmaltz crazy when I make my Tuscan-style liver every year for Passover. Or maybe even when making matzah balls. But there are lots of other ways to use up that fat for delicious results throughout the year.
I know some of you are ready to yell at me. Schmaltz is unhealthy! Why are you advocating adding more fat to your diet? And to you people I will say, you are probably reading the wrong blog. But also, I am not advocating more, regular, excessive schmaltz consumption; I just want to share some other ways to use small amounts of the fat in order to add lots of flavor.
Some of my favorite ways to use a little shmaltz in my cooking:
– Swap out half the oil in a base of a soup, and saute your onions, garlic and/or vegetables in the golden fat for an extra flavor boost.
– Make caramelized onions using schmaltz for a great sandwich or hamburger topping.
– Swap out some of the oil in a savory noodle kugel or potato kugel recipe for schmaltz
– Drizzle on top of roasted vegetables or potatoes.
And even more great recipes ideas:
Has your schmaltz craving and questions been answered? If not get yourself a copy of Michael Ruhlman’s Book of Schmaltz for even more recipes and tips.
Great recipes to share? Still more questions? Post below!
Chopped liver is one of the most iconic Jewish dishes. It’s been consumed spread on top of challah and matzah for generations. But the Ashkenazi version doesn’t really do much to impress me, with only onions to add flavor, I find the taste bland.
I wanted to create something that would enhance the naturally rich flavor of liver. So I looked for inspiration from more Middle Eastern flavors. Ironically, nothing is more Israeli than Turkish coffee. And perhaps also surprising is that the bitterness of the coffee really compliments the liver and apple flavors.
The result is a classic Jewish dish with an elegant twist and a really delicious taste.
1 heaping Tbsp Turkish coffee or instant espresso
2 Tbsp honey
1 lb chicken livers
½ cup warm water
½ tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 green apples, peeled and diced
Place the Turkish coffee (or instant espresso) and honey in the bottom of a heat proof bowl. Stir in the hot water until the honey dissolves.
Add the livers and let marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Heat a small pot over a medium heat along with the cloves, vinegars and brown sugar.
Once the contents of the pot begins to simmer add the apples.
Lower the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Allow the apples to cook for half an hour.
The apples should be soft and darkened slightly when they are ready. After the apples are done cooking, use a slotted spoon and remove them from the pot leaving whatever liquid remains in the pot.
Raise the heat under the pot to medium high and drain all the liquid from the bowl except approximately 2 Tbsp worth of the marinade.
Add the liver and marinade to the pot and cook the livers until there are no more visible pink parts.
Combine the liver and cooked apples in a medium bowl and mash until desired consistency. For a smoother consistency you can use a food processor fitted with blade attachment.
One of my favorite recent Passover recipes is an Italian style liver spread, instead of traditional chopped liver. This recipe is…unctuous. Rich, sweet, flavorful, and will blow your traditional mom’s (or bubbe’s) chunky liver out of the water. This recipe is NOT for those who are looking for a healthy alternative. This recipe is best for people looking for an indulgent dish, because yes, it has fat in it.
Traditional Tuscan style liver spread calls for a special wine made in the region called Vin Santo, which of course is difficult (though not impossible) to find kosher. So instead of using the elusive sweet Vin Santo wine, I recommend using a sweet red wine, or even dare I say it.
Ok, I’ll whisper: Manischewitz.
I like to broil my own livers, but there is no reason you can’t use already broiled livers from the butcher.
1 lb chicken livers (raw or already broiled)
1 Tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
3/4 cup sliced button or bella mushrooms
1 Tablespoon capers, minced
1 Tablespoon minced anchovies or anchovy paste
1 1/2 cups sweet red wine
chicken or duck fat
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
If livers are not already broiled, spread out the raw livers on a roasting pan and broil in an oven until they are just no longer pink inside.
In a skillet on medium, heat a few Tablespoons of olive oil, and add 1 teaspoon of chicken or duck fat. Saute the mushrooms in oil until soft and caramelized. Add capers, thyme and anchovies and saute for another minute or two, so the flavors have the chance to marry.
Add the sweet red wine, scraping any “good bits” on the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture reduce for 2 minutes, and then add the livers to the mixture. Allow the livers to cook in the wine and mushroom mixture for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce has a reduced to half and livers are fully coated.
Allow the livers and sauce to cool for a few minutes, and then add to a food processor along with 1-2 Tbsp of chicken or duck fat. Mix until desired consistently. Fold in lemon zest at the end.
Serve with matzah or tam tams during Passover.