Butter is great, don’t get me wrong. But few fats add as much flavor and richness as schmaltz—an essential ingredient to Ashkenazi cooking made from rendered chicken or goose fat, traditionally flavored with fried onions. You can get your hands on it one of two ways. You can head to the butcher or supermarket meat counter and buy containers of it. Or, if you cook as much chicken as I do, you can make it yourself! Save all the skin and fat trimmings you get before cooking, as well as those sweet pan drippings after roasting—not mandatory or traditional, but a personal favorite—and store them in the freezer.
Reprinted with permission from Jew-ish by Jake Cohen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2021). —Jake Cohen
Test Kitchen Notes
After you make a batch of schmaltz, don't sleep on this Schmaltzy Chex Mix recipe, also from Jake Cohen's cookbook, "Jewish." —The Editors
about 1 cup
chicken skin and fat trimmings (about 3 cups)
yellow onion, minced
In This Recipe
Combine the skin and fat trimmings (plus any pan drippings if using) in a medium saucepan with enough water to just cover.
Bring to a simmer and then cook over medium-low heat until all the water has evaporated and the chicken skin begins to brown, about 45 minutes.
Throw in the onion and cook until lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and let cool. (The strained fried chicken cracklings and onions are called gribenes, a shtetl classic, and should 100 percent be eaten fresh over bread or absolutely anything.)
Store the schmaltz in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year.