I often get asked: what is schmaltz? Or, what should I do with extra schmaltz? And lucky for you, schmaltz is one of my most favorite topics.
Schmaltz is rendered 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. The basic method is to cook pieces of chicken skin and fat in a pan with a little water and lots of onions very low and slow until the fat is release. You can then strain and pour off the fat to freeze or use in various recipes (like matzah balls). The bits of onion and fried chicken skin are known as gribenes and can also be eaten. Think of them like Jewish pork rinds.
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 website. Everything in moderation.
Some of my favorite ways to use a schmaltz in every day 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:
Prounounced: KOO-gull (oo as in book), Origin: Yiddish, traditional Ashkenazi casserole frequently made with egg noodles or potatoes.