Schmaltz and Gribenes
Ah, schmaltz. That golden cooking fat so engrained in our Jewish culinary history.
We now know that animal fats are not our healthiest options, but that makes schmaltz even more special to pull out for holiday dishes a few times a year. Don’t even think about what you’re eating when you snack on some delicious gribenes, the remaining skin and onions that cook down to a crunchy, savory extra. Just enjoy the crisp they bring to your fork.
Making schmaltz is easier to make than you might think, and the recipe is very forgiving. Just follow this basic method (and watch the video at the bottom of this post!), and you won’t go wrong! The most popular versions are made from rendered chicken skin and fat, but you can use other poultry such as turkey or duck. You can save raw chicken skins in your freezer until you have enough to cook, or you can ask your butcher for a package of leftover parts.
- 1½ pounds chicken skin and fat (be sure you have no bits of meat)
- 1 small onion, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- Cut chicken skin into about 1-inch pieces using a very sharp knife or poultry shears. Smaller pieces will cook faster. No need to cut fat. Place skin and fat in a large, unheated heavy skillet and then turn on the heat to medium. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes until there is a layer of liquid fat in the pan. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the pan. Add the onions and stir. Cook for another 20 to 25 minutes until the fat is a deep yellow color and the onions and skins are crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove the gribenes (fried skin and onions) from the pan using a slotted spoon and place onto paper towels to drain, reserving as much fat as you can. Strain the remaining fat through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids.
- Your schmaltz will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it tightly wrapped for about three months. Gribenes will last in the refrigerator for about a week.