How to Render Chicken Fat (Schmaltz)
Look at the beautiful golden wonderfulness…. That right there ladies and gentleman, is rendered chicken fat. Yup. What exactly is “rendered” chicken fat? Essentially, you are taking fat cut off from the lean meat of the chicken, adding water to it, simmering it for an extended period of time to break it down until it is no longer a solid, but rather a liquid, like you see above. A golden ray of culinary sunshine. Too much? I don’t think so.
You can use it for a ridiculous amount of things – really anything that requires a little oil for frying. Throw a little of this in instead. It is a nice thing to have frozen to pull from as you are cooking.
Where to find chicken fat:
Where would you find copious amounts of chicken fat? Well, as you go through your normal recipes and cook chicken periodically, you can simply cut off any excess fat and throw it into a bag in the freezer until you have enough. Otherwise, you can do what I did – stop by your deli and ask someone behind the counter of they could hook you up with some chicken fat…. probably not something they hear everyday, but you aren’t going to get laughed at. I asked the butcher at my deli and he handed me some freshly cut chicken fat and trimmings – it was perfect. I mixed that with some skin from several chicken thighs.
How to render chicken fat:
Once you have amassed a good amount of fat and skin, about 1 pound, place it in a deep saucepan and add enough water to barely cover all of the fat and skin.
This is a marathon. Not a sprint. Slowly simmer the fat and skin in the water for 45 min – hour, or until the fat has completely rendered or “melted” and the skin has turned into that wonderful crackling and is brown, but not burnt. Obviously, if you burn the skin the flavor of the rendered fat will change, and probably not in a good way.
My butcher basically gave me the trimmings from the morning, so I do have just some fatty meat pieces in the picture above – but you can also see the golden fat being rendered and the beginnings of some wonderful crackling.
Once you have successfully rendered your fat, you may decide to add some onion as well. There are a lot of different viewpoints our there as to whether onions HAVE to be added or not and whether that should be at the beginning of the process or only for the last few minutes…. Here is my take on it, if you add onion that will change the flavor of the fat, just like if you burnt some skin. That being said, it tastes better with the onion (and some salt). So, I would say it depends upon what you plan on using it for. If you want the rendered fat to act more as an oil for recipes and do not want it adding a ton of other flavors, then maybe don’t add it. On the other hand, if you want the rendered fat to be a big part of your recipe, maybe add the onion for that full-bodied flavor.
What do you use rendered chicken fat for?
I personally use it a lot to make homemade garlic confit!!! Sooo good!
- Approx. 3/4 pound chicken fat (roughly chopped)
- Approx. 1/4 pound chicken skin
- water (enough to cover fat and skin)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (optional)
- kosher salt
- Place fat and skin in deep saucepan.
- Add enough water to barely cover the skin and fat.
- Simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add onion when fat is completely melted and skin has turned brownish, but has not burned.
- Continue to stir frequently as onion cooks, approx. 10-15 minutes.
- Add a pinch or two of kosher salt.
- Strain fat through fine mesh sieve.
- Use immediately or keep in fridge in airtight container for no more than a week or freeze for later use.