Schmaltz, that most glorious of rendered animal fats - other than butter, of course - may be doubly flavorful when sourced from American Bresse chickens...
Schmaltz is a soft and creamy fat with a pleasing buttery taste. It is nothing more than rendered chicken fat which has been melted out of chicken skin and tissues into a pure oil.
Rendering releases the oils out of the tissues, resulting in hot liquid rendered chicken fat (schmaltz), and cracklings, the richly browned crispy connective tissue and any skin that was cooked during the process of rendering chicken fat.
Chicken fat is mainly sourced from chicken skin, but also adding the solid fat pads around the neck and shoulders, and the fat from the abdomen at the tail.
The ability of the American Bresse to marble on the fat results in ribbons of fat in between the various muscle groups, which if extensive enough can also be pulled away from the meat and saved for rendering schmaltz. Some cooks also skim off the excess fat floating on top of a pot of cooked chicken or chicken bone broth and add it to a simmering pan of rendering schmaltz.
Lard, tallow, and ghee become very hard when refrigerated. Schmaltz - rendered poultry fat - is soft enough to scoop out of a mason jar with a spoon or fork, whether room or refrigerator temperatures.
Schmaltz is wonderful to cook with because the depth and complexity of its flavor richly enhances the flavors of most any recipe's ingredients. On the simple side, schmaltz can be used to add a touch of fat and flavor to many recipes.
That same unique punch of intense poultry flavor that earns the American Bresse Chicken the moniker "poultry of kings, and queen of poultry," seems also to be imparted into the schmaltz.
Is rendered chicken fat healthy? It's a fair question, since schmaltz is 100% fat. So is fat bad for you? I am sure that it is possible to over-do the dietary intake of any nutrient, including fats.
Per every tablespoon of schmaltz, the make-up of chicken fat breaks down like this:
According to Facty.com4, the balance of fats in schmaltz tends to support high-density cholesterol, which helps to maintain clean arteries.
This is why it is a problem that dietary "authorities" in America have madly pushed a non-fat agenda on the general public for more than sixty years. As the populace continues to become more and more obese, logic should tell us that there must be much more to the story than the current fat-is-bad explanation. In fact, could it be that we've restricted from our diet the very thing - fats - that work to balance and empower health and energy?
Perhaps the fat phobia that set in during the mid-twentieth century is finally beginning to fade into the rear view mirror? More and more uncompromised studies are coming into the public awareness that demonstrate the health benefits of animal fats, including schmaltz.
I'm not a scientist, though I am a retired registered nurse. My deep interest in all things nutritional led to the research and writing of the page: Is Fat Bad for You? Read it and see what you think...
With the general vilification of animal fats over the last decades, Americans had virtually lost the art of cooking with schmaltz. (The FDA cast disdain on butter too, but buttery goodness was well nigh impossible to give up.)
Kosher eating rules5 may be the reason why the use of savory schmaltz did not entirely vanish.
Cooking kosher is a Jewish thing. Among other rules, kosher means that meat and milk are not consumed at the same meal. This regulation is taken from a sentence in the Torah - Exodus 34:261 - which admonishes the children of Israel not to boil a calf in its mother's milk. This instruction is taken to forbid the eating of dairy products with meat products.
Schmaltz, a meat product, has a rich flavor described variously as buttery, as somewhat nutty, or as carameled richness. It adds a deep savor to any recipe, including many traditional Jewish recipes, both for everyday meals and for High Holiday meals, such as Passover. What's not to like about being able to add the richness of butter without the dairy product itself?2
How about using schmaltz for baked goods? According to Michael Ruhlman in The Book of Schmaltz3, "Schmaltz can replace butter in baked goods for extraordinary effects" (3). What? Schmaltz in cakes or cookies?? Yup! Ruhlman offers the reader a schmaltz oatmeal cookie recipe: "The schmaltz does have a great effect here - it doesn't make the cookie taste like chicken, but it does give it a savory depth to balance the sweetness" (152).
Schmaltz can also be used for simple purposes - as a flavorful oil in which to sauté vegetables, to enhance other flavors, or to use as a delightful spread on toast, garnished and seasoned to taste, instead of using butter or cheese.
Making simple schmaltz is very easy, since in the truest sense of the word, schmaltz is nothing more than the rendered fat of poultry (chicken, duck, geese, turkey).
The amount of chicken fat and skin that you choose to render is up to you. To collect an amount sufficient for your needs, you can save and freeze the excess fat and extra pieces of raw chicken skin from meals of chicken until you've saved up enough chicken fat and skins to satisfy your purposes.
If you render a couple cups of solid fat/skin, you should end up with roughly 1/2 - 3/4 cups of schmaltz.
Don't throw away the cracklings! Drain them on paper towels and season them to taste while still moist with, for example, salt, garlic powder and/or additional spices. Cracklings can be used as a garnish over salads, vegetables, and casseroles.
Plan ahead, and make your schmaltz with onions added! Adding onions makes for some fantastic-tasting cracklings. Kosher recipes call these onion-y cracklings gribenes.
Gribenes (pronounciation is grih-ben-ess), are the amazing little sibling of schmaltz. Since you're already rendering chicken fat to make schmaltz, there will certainly be cracklings left over once the schmaltz is drained away into a container. If the process also includes adding and caramelizing onions, you will be left with two truly delicious products and no waste: schmaltz and gribenes.
Gribenes can be eaten as a delicious snack. They supply excellent energy because they are low in the simple carbs that tend to spike and then tank the blood sugar.
One can also use gribenes as a topping or a garnish for other dishes, such as potatoes, salads, vegetables, casseroles, omelets, and other main dishes.
Heck, you can even replace bacon with seasoned gribenes, they are THAT good. (Bubbie would never dream of cooking with bacon, which is why she loves her gribenes).
Ingredients: (This recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled...!)
Seriously, it is difficult to understand why schmaltz and gribenes are not a regular part of the American diet.
I have begun to make gribenes on a regular basis. I use them in all the ways listed above, and especially as a pick-me-up snack in the middle of the day.
Give it a whirl!! I have no doubt you will be glad you did.
My guess is that commercially prepared schmaltz is not readily available because it is so delicious! Follow my drift, now - on homesteads, every drop of precious schmaltz will be guarded for the sole use of the family and their select friends.
Commercially, supply and demand dictate prices. Unfortunately, over the last 50 years the powers that be worked very hard to convince society that fats are the enemy of health. Therefore, demand for the nutrition that powers hard work has greatly dropped.
But! Our research reveals that there ARE a few commercial sources where one can buy schmaltz. When you click any of the following links, we hope the product is not sold out...
You will LOVE the flavor and the health benefits of the schmaltz and gribenes that you produce from your own American Bresse Chickens!
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