I have a feeling some of you seasoned Real Fooders are gonna laugh at this one, but here goes yet another story of this noob’s traditional cooking adventures. Maybe there are still some of you that have not yet made this discovery like me. Either way, it’s pretty awesome.
So, I was roasting up a whole, organic chicken (wishing it were local and pastured…) the other night, as I frequently do, and thinking about how much I loved that with my knowledge of nourishing, traditional cooking, I knew to save all that extra stuff I used to (*gasp!*) throw away — the bones, carcass, even those scary-looking gizzards and neck stuffed up its rump (although I wish they would have stuffed its head and feet up there too!)– for making chicken stock. I thought about how cool is it to be able to use the WHOLE chicken — all of its parts — much like how many traditional cultures such as native American tribes would, out of both necessity and respect to the animal for its sacrifice to nourish us. Well, and because they knew how good all those things are for us to eat!
After devouring as much of the bird as Pre-Hubs and I could, I put the remains away in the fridge for leftovers, and got a little excited for making my next round of stock with the carcass. Feeling satisfied that none of this tasty creature would go to waste, I suddenly realized that there actually was still quite a bit of goodness from the roast that was unaccounted for — that I would have normally dumped down the drain.
The delicious roasting juice!
Ah! I already had spooned some of it into our rice (cooked in chicken stock, of course) as we ate our meal, so why not save the rest of it to use as a tasty dressing to other foods? I was thinking, stir-fry vegetables, or even to add a little moisture back into the leftover chicken meat. So, I bottled it up in a mason jar and popped it in the fridge. Every last bit of this nourishing chicken would be consumed. Go me!
I proudly reflected upon my frugal, traditional cooking prowess and went to sleep.
In the morning, I opened the fridge to find my jar of juice looking, well, a little different!
Wait a second… is that… fat?
My eyes lit up.
I opened the jar and poked this creamy layer sitting atop my chicken juice — it was solid! That had to mean this was chicken fat, right?
Gears were turning inside my only relatively-recently-enlightened Real-Food-minded noggin. Of the many nourishing, healthy fats we ought to consume, there’s lard, which I know is rendered by slowly cooking down pig fat; tallow which is made the same way from beef, and then there was… what was it?
(what an awesome word, by the way. Schmaltz. Schhhmaaallt-zzz. Heh. Hehe.)
From chickens! (and other birds.)
I think that’s what I made!
I mean, there’s fat in the chicken, I slowly cooked it down while roasting, and then I was left with the congealed, rendered fat — just like lard and tallow, right? Right.
I spooned this treasured fatty treat into another jar — it deserved its own — and marveled at my discovery. How awesome! Here I was thinking I was just plumb out of luck when it came to rendering my own delicious cooking fats (pastured pork fat and suet are pretty much impossible to come by where I live), when all along, this super-easy and readily-available animal fat was right under my nose! Or, in my freezer. Or… in my oven. But, definitely, no longer down the drain!!
I’ll be sure to use my fancy-schmancy-schmaltz the next time I need a good cooking fat. Thank you, Chicken!
Is rendering chicken schmaltz from a roast, routine in your kitchen? Or are you like me and didn’t realize that “juice” was really delicious, useable fat?! (Or, are you all entirely amazed that it took me this long to figure it out? ;))