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Makin' Schmaltz

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
In the past I've made schmaltz by slowly sautéing chicken skin and fat. However, is it possible to make that wonderful stuff by simmering the skin and fat in water, refrigerating it, and then skimming the fat the next day? Is there a downside to this?

Shel
post #2 of 13
I've heard of people making schmaltz with water, but I never tried it. Mine is just chicken fat and skin and an onion for flavor, simmer slowly and when the gribenes (cracklings) are good and brown, let the liquid fat cool a bit before straining it into a glass jar. Keep in the fridge or freeze it.

My mom made it a quart at a time- never used water. But you do have to keep an eye on it towards the end; burned schmaltz is fit only for the trash.
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post #3 of 13
What I do is save up chicken skin and fat, then run it through the meat grinder along with onion, garlic, celery, and leek tops. Put it in a pot, pour in about 1/4 the total of water, then add in aromatics and simmer.

I was always told that water is neccesary, as the liquid fat at the bottom of the pot would burn before the stuff at the top of the pot had a chance to render out. It does take a little bit of time to render fat out of the skin, even though it's been chewed up in the meat grinder.

I use my schmaltz principly for sauteing vegetables for soups, and every now and then for gravy or stuffing. What do you guys use it for?
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post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yes, that's essentially what I've done for years. However, making it with the water method might just be a little cleaner and simpler, plus might not the water make a nice addition to stock for extra flavor. IAC, I just wonder what, if any, the downside might be.

Shel
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Matzoh balls, sometimes for sautéing chicken ... not much else so far.

Shel
post #6 of 13
Jeff Smith(Frugal Gourmet) recommends the water method. It's what I've used.

It's main advantage is that you render fat into the water and bring everything to temp. Then as the water finishes evaporating, some of the grease is already rendered into the pan and you don't get so much splattering.

Phil
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post #7 of 13
I've done it both ways (with and without water), for chicken and duck. When I do it without water, I have to be careful to keep the heat low enough so that nothing burns. When I do it with water, and let the fat congeal on top, I still recook the fat to boil out all the water that might be in it unseen. That keeps it from mildewing in the fridge. (Basically it's the same procedure as clarifying butter.)
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post #8 of 13
Your water method sounds different than mine. I use just a bit of water in the bottom of the pan, no more than 1/4 inch. All the water has evaporated long before all the fat has rendered. Jeff Smith uses the same technique for rendering lard from pork fat.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #9 of 13
When doing it with duck you of course get the cracklings. :) Same with pork.
post #10 of 13
You get the "cracklings" with chicken too, Kuan. We call them "gribenes," and they're the cook's reward for going through the work of rendering the fat.

Which technique to use can be a function of quantitiy. The idea of water is so that there's something going on until the fat starts to render out. Once that happens it's a matter of monitoring the temperature, keeping it low enough so the process continues but the oil doesn't burn.

When doing pork, I start with a little water. Otherwise there's a danger of sticking and burning. Once the lard starts to flow, however, the water boils off. This is basically the same approach as Phil's.

With chicken I don't bother with the water. But I work at a very low flame, and stir frequently until there's enough schmaltz in the pot to maintain the rendering process.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 13
In my case, as a kid it was the reward for having to scour the pot! :eek:

Schmaltz is unequalled for fabulous chopped liver (chicken livers only at our house- no calf or beef :eek: ). Saute the livers in some schmaltz after trimming them carefully. Chop (in a wooden bowl with a hockmesser if you've got one), then add finely minced raw onion, finely chopped hard boiled egg, salt and pepper and a good dollop of schmaltz to taste. Allow to chill, covered, until the flavors blend. Serve on rye bread, matzo or challah (in honor of my late Uncle Moishe, who loved it on challah).

We also used schmaltz to sautee onions for kasha varnishkes (kasha with bowtie macaroni or shell macaroni). My grandmother greased her kugel pans with it when the kugel was to be served as part of a meat meal. Schmaltz was usually added to fillings for kreplach (E. European Jewish version of won ton) made from leftover bits of pot roast, kasha, etc.

My stepdad's boyhood after school snack was a schmear of schmaltz and chopped raw onion on rye bread. He'd wolf it down and run off to Hebrew school. By the luck of the genes he did not die of heart disease.
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post #12 of 13
I kind of schmaltzed up my Chicken 'n' Dumplings last night. I seared skin on bone in thighs on the skin side to render fat for the dish. Pulled the skin off after cooking that side and finished rendering the skin before proceeding. Then used that for cooking up the vegies and making the roux. I thought it punched up the chicken flavor nicely.

Phi
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #13 of 13
Ummmm, ummmm. Definately sounds like a plan, Phil.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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