Traditionally we think of cooking oil in categories of vegetable, olive, coconut, butter, or maybe even lard. But what you are about to learn will blow your mind. Ready? Its melted chicken fat, or “Schmaltz”.
When I first started to make bone broth from my leftover chicken scraps and bones, I would always end up with this solid layer of fat on top of my broth. At first I would either scrape it off and discard it, or just dump it into whatever soup I was making at the time.
When I started educating myself about healthy fats (yes, they can go in the same sentence) I decided to try my luck with that solid stuff floating at the top of my broth.
Would it be like coconut oil? My “go to” choice for cooking oils I didn’t feel guilty about eating. But coconut oil didn’t work well for frying… or cooking on high heat. I would always end up using a lot more coconut oil than some of the more traditional cooking oils that you can get in the baking isle – like canola and corn.
Or, would it be like cooking with olive oil? Great to cook with but leaves its own flavor trail behind.
The first time I cooked with schmaltz it absolutely blew my mind about how easy it was to cook with. I only had to use a little bit and it would last at high-heat to perfectly saute, fry and soften. I started adding it to my turkey bacon for breakfast in the morning… which we all know needs a little extra help on the pan to cook right. Perfect turkey bacon!
I started frying up tortillas and leftover ground beef… no weird flavor!
Don’t get me wrong, schmaltz does have a flavor. It is chicken fat, after all. But while we think of it as flavoring everything to taste like chicken skin, it actually just gives it a nice, buttery flavor that is to die for. Even my husband, the farmer and meat lover, doesn’t notice when I use it to cook up his eggs in the morning.
What exactly is schmaltz? It is literally just clarified chicken fat, used a lot in Jewish communities – and known for its use in making the best latkes at Hanukkah. I have also read that is good used just like butter on Challah bread or toast. A lot of recipes call for you to fry up a bunch of chicken skin (called gribenes after its fried) and then scoop out the melted fat that comes from it. But I literally just scoop it off of the bone broth that I make it the crop pot. All I do is strain my broth into a jar, put the jar in the fridge – and overnight it will harden, ready to scoop off.
Schmaltz lasts forever just sitting in your fridge. But if you are like me and don’t want to let it go bad, just scoop it into some ice trays to freeze, and then pop them out and store in a little baggie in the freezer.
Schmaltz is so delicious and so easy to cook with, however, that you might find yourself using it up faster than you can make it!
So, I will say it again – you can use every single part of your chicken, none has to go to waste.