Going Up in Smoke


What is Schmaltz?  How is it made?


Schmaltz is the rendered fat of chickens, used in traditional Jewish cooking.  The word comes from the Yiddish for "chicken fat."

It's made by cutting  the skin and fat from the birds into small pieces (1" or 2.5 cm square) and placing them into a saucepan with a small onion that had been cut into slices, a 1/4 cup of water, and optionally half an apple, peeled, cored and sliced.

The whole lot is brought to a boil over medium heat until the water has completely cooked away.  Reduce the heat and watch for the skin and onions to start to become dark golden brown.  At this point, the fat can be strained off from the solids and kept for cooking.  Let the pieces of skin drain on a paper towel, salt lightly and eat like cracklings.  The cooked onion can be saved and incorporated into other dishes, such as chopped liver.

Because Jewish kosher law prohibits the use of dairy and meat in the same meal, schmaltz is often used as a replacement for butter, either in cooking or as a spread.  Kept refrigerated, schmaltz has a long shelf life.

Schmaltz may also be made from duck or other poultry, although chicken is most common.

On another note, CJ Katz (no relation, as far as I know) from Regina, author of the Savour Life e-zine, took a shot at one of my favorite peeves -- outmoded and inedible garnishes.  She scored a bullseye, as far as I'm concerned, especially when it comes to rosemary.  Sure, I love the smell of the stuff and cook with it often, but lumber is not a garnish.

The article fits well with my frequent rants in KitchenSavvy about the attention to detail and style that make a restaurant stand out.  It appears in the setting, the flavors, the presentation, the attitude of the wait staff, and even the garnish.

There is a subscribe button on the page banner for Savour Life.  It's worth doing.

Well done, CJ.


This is interesting, but it begs the question: Where did the adjective "schmaltzy" (overly sentimental) come from!?

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