Saturday, July 5, 2014

Schmaltz & Gribenes

Liquid Schmaltz

What is Schmaltz you ask?  It's our secret weapon for making things taste great.  Yes, that's right, it's our liquid gold that we add to just about anything; well I do if I want to make the stereotypical Jewish food taste good.  Healthy probably not but anything used in moderation is not bad for you. 

Solidified Schmaltz 

Non-Jewish people may not be familiar with Schmaltz so allow me to give you an analogy. Schmaltz is to the Jew as Lard is to the Gentile.  

Gribenes are the by-product of the culinary masterpiece we call Schmaltz. 




Collect skin and fat from chickens. I usually de-bone chicken thighs and use the meat in another dish and save all the skin and fat. 

As the above picture shows, I placed chicken on sheet pan and froze slightly so I could cut into one inch pieces.

Toss everything in large non-stick frying pan with about a 1/2 cup of water and begin a gentle simmer. 

Once the water and the moisture in the fat and skin have cooked off, crank up heat and brown the fat. 

When the skin is lightly brown and plenty of fat has rendered, toss in lots of onions. (Onions are optional)

Fry it all up and stir every once and a while and scrape bottom of pan. 

Notice how everything is getting golden.

Ah.....all golden brown.  What we have here is Schmaltz and Gribenes which is the byproduct of making Schmaltz. "This picture is not accurate. The Gribenes are much lighter in color. "

Set up a bowl and insert strainer, than layer with cheese cloth.

Strain the liquid gold and reserve the gribenes. The Schmaltz is ready to use. Refrigerate/freeze until you want to use it.  Another technique that's worth mentioning. I will sometimes freeze the gribenes and process to a powder and use in dishes. 

Liquid Gold can be used just like butter.  You can add it to any recipe that calls for fat.  I.E Knish , Latkes, Matzo balls, Potato Kugel, Quiche etc etc......I store my stuff in the freezer and keep adding to the supply. 

The Gribenes can be use in all the above dishes.  I like to freeze them and use a food processor to chop them up like a bacon bits.  



  1. There is an expression in the common tongue describing something as Schmaltzy. That refers to something that "your grandmother would use", like lace doilies on the sofa. It is derived from the fact that thrifty Jewish cooks used to render chicken fat to make cooking oil, nothing was wasted. Sadly it's not something that many cooks bother with today, so schmaltzy is something old, dated or out of time.

    Very characteristic odor and flavor. You can buy nice schmaltz in the freezer section of Publix. I use it or duck fat when I'm doing Sous Vide. I suspect you cannot do authentic Jewish cooking without it. rendered to remove proteins, it keeps forever. Wonderful stuff.

  2. thanks for your comment. Having two grandmothers that cooked a lot and one that spoke Yiddish gave me a unique window into Jewish cooking.