Thursday, January 8, 2015

Schmaltz, Schmaltz, Baby.

Every once in a while I get it in my head to do something a little odd.  
One morning recently I thought I'd make some schmaltz.  Why?  I don't know.

I went to the local Adams Fairacre market and stuck my head in at the meat department.  "You got any chicken skin?"  The lady looked at me like I was nuts.  This is a real butcher shop -- they generally know what they're talking about.  But I guess no one has asked them for schmaltz ingredients.

"I want to render some chicken fat.  I thought that if you all were trimming chickens, you might have some skin and stuff I could take."  "Sure, she said.  Come back in about 20 minutes."

So I did my shopping and heading back to the meat department when I was done.  She had a nice big bag for me -- about 5 pounds of chicken skin, tail nubbies and what not.

By the way, Adams sometimes has frozen bricks of unrendered duck trimmings -- at about $1.50 a pound.  I bought two bricks, chopped up the trimmings into chunks, and put them in a pot of simmering water.  It took a while, but the hot water rendered all the fat out and then boiled off.  You have to be careful not to let the pieces burn, or you'll got an off-flavor (and dull yellow color) to the fat.  I was left with about a quart of beautiful white duck fat -- for about $2.50.  Rendered duck fat is $12 a pound mail order from D'artagnan.  Duck fat is awesome for frying potatoes, making popcorn, and, of course, confit duck legs (not that I've ever confitted a duck leg).  And it's low fat and heart friendly!  (No, it's not.)

I took them home and threw them into a large cast-iron skillet.  I think I should have chopped it up a bit more.  I played with the heat -- I needed it hot enough to render the fat in a reasonable time, but I didn't want to burn anything.

After a while, I had a skillet of golden fat and lots of crispy gribenes.  I ate one piece of crispy chicken skin and tossed the rest.  (Although maybe the next time we make mashed potatoes, some crumbled gribenes over the top?)

I poured off the fat into some clean mason jars:

One went to my dad, and one to Lisa's dad.

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