Do you have a freezer bag full of raw chicken skin waiting for the holidays? Well, maybe you should. Let me explain.
You see, there is a reason that people say schmaltz is liquid gold: it is delicious, it can get added to a plethora of dishes, and it’s actually very cheap. It’s also very much on trend, since using every part of the animal has been on the lips of chefs, bloggers and other food people for years.
But let me back up. In case you are wondering, schmaltz is a rendered fat most often made from chicken skin, onions, and water. You can also have duck schmaltz or goose schmaltz, but chicken is most common. And it is a crucial ingredient in chopped liver and matzah balls, two holiday dishes most American Jews cannot live without.
If you want to earn that Jewish food achievement badge, you should definitely be rendering your own for all the reasons below.
Schmaltz takes only a few ingredients to make, and yes, a little time and patience. But the investment in making your own could last you several months. A little bit goes a long way, and you likely won’t be drenching your fries or vegetables in chicken fat each and every week.
You are probably trimming some of the fat from your chicken anyway. So instead of throwing that gold out, turn it into someting else you can use in your cooking. Creating schmaltz is a way to use every resource. Peasant cooking is great cooking.
It Might Actualy Be Healthier
Ok, stay with me here for a moment. There is some research that indicates animal fat and butter may actually reduce cholesterol, as opposed to vegetable-based fats. This is all with the mindset of moderation and that excessive schmaltz or butter or even matzah balls is never good for anyone.
One of the reasons people love using schmaltz? It’s delicious. The chicken and onions give it a depth of flavor, and it will add a richness to any dish. On top of fries, in matzah balls, in salad dressing or on roasted veggies, it is versatile and will up your cooking game.
- 3 cups raw chicken skin, cut into pieces (around 1 lb)
- 2 large onions, diced
- Add chicken skin to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cover with water and cover pan.
- Bring to a simmer and then lower heat to low-medium.
- Cook until water has mostly evaporated, skin is near crispy and the fat has been released. This should take around 40-50 minutes.
- Drain off some of the fat into a container and add onion, continuing to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Strain all liquid through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve crispy chicken skin (called gribenes) and enjoy as a snack. (you may want to add a sprinkle of salt).
- Store schmaltz in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 2-3 months.