Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Have you heard of the word 'schmaltz?' is an old Yiddish word for 'rendered chicken fat'. Back in the old days in Eastern Europe when margarine wasn't invented (which is so unhealthy)...butter, which was too expensive to cook with, you could make this natural, humble 'liquid gold' just from slowly cooking down the skins, and the fat part from the chicken, adding some chopped, or sliced onions (I also added a couple garlic cloves, sliced thin) You couldn't imagine a Jewish household not having their freshly made schmaltz. The best part of the skin from the chicken to render fat is the breast, and using a bunch of backbones which you can buy for very cheap price at the grocery supermarket.
There's so many uses of this fine homemade schmaltz...matzo balls, potato latkes, chopped liver, roasted chicken, and even the American southern dishes; hush puppies, corn bread, and for pie crusts...just to name a few. It may seem like an odd word...SCHMALTZ; which can also describe something expensive, or maybe something 'corny'! Old Yiddish words, used in phrases are totally hilarious!

You probably are familiar with some of these Yiddish words.
KLUTZ= an awkward person.
OY-VEY= how terrible things are.
SCHMOOZ= (is to kiss up to somebody)
SHLEP= carry, or dragging something
NUDNIK= a pest, an annoying person

SHLEMIL= dummy, loser *
SHLIMAZL=unlucky person*
Ever wondered about the 'theme song' of the beloved and funny show from the seventies what they meant?...shlemil, and shlimazl...still love the re-runs!

Chicken Schmaltz
(my way) by:Elisabeth

2 lbs. chicken backs, and roughly cut up
1 large onion, cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Place the chicken backs, and skins in a large heavy skillet. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and on low heat start simmering the chicken backs and skin. After about 10 minutes, push the pieces aside, and add the onion and the garlic.

Continue to cook for another 45 minutes on low
heat. Keep stirring often. You will see the golden liquid and the chicken and onion slightly colored. Do not get it too dark. As you can see in the photo, the onion has a nice golden color to it. Remove the chicken backs to a container (do not discard) You can make a nice chicken broth with the remaining pieces. Discard the onions, and strain the schmaltz through a fine sieve into a container, or jar with a tight fitting lid. Cool, cover, and refrigerate until needed.



  1. It's called Schmalz over here..I used to buy duck fat just for the baking. Pastry made with goose fat tastes sooooooooooooooo good. Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe, Elisabeth.
    Have a good day!

    1. Thanks Angie! I'm sure you are able to buy the freshest Schmaltz (schmalz) living in Germany. I will try goose schmaltz as that I found goose in our local favorite grocery supermarket in their freezer! xo

  2. Elisabeth, in Poland "smalec" (from the the German word "schmaltz") means only pork fat. Of course since Jews don't eat pork, it's easy to guess why it means only chicken fat in Yiddish. I love home made good quality pork fat (especially when well seasoned, with a slice of dark moist bread...), but have never tasted chicken fat. I lust try making it one day. Thank you so much for inspiration!

    1. Sissi, that is really interesting...actually from my understanding Schmaltz, or Schmalz in German does mean rendered animal fat; you are right about Jews...mostly not eat pork; here in the U.S. if you go to any 'fancy schmancy' country club...most of the members are Jewish, and the Sunday Brunch table is lined up for the best crunchy and yummy bacon-go figure! I remember eating homemade bread as a kid... spread with chicken fat and sprinkled with salt...sooo good!

  3. Schmaltz comes from the German word Schmalz. It is not just used for Chicken fat. There is pig Schmalz and goose Schmalz, too. Goose Schmalz is very popular to be eaten as an appetizer on some good bread with salt on top. Pig Schmalz is usually just used for frying.

    1. So nice to hear from you, Kristen...did not even know you are still blogging. Will visit your blog after my reply!

      From the Wikipedia:
      Schmaltz or schmalz or shmalz is rendered, (clarified) chicken or goose fat used for frying or as a spread on bread in German, Austrian, Polish and thus by historical extension, to Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine as well.

      The English term "schmaltz" is derived from Yiddish, and is cognate with the German term Schmalz, meaning "rendered animal fat", regardless of source—both tallow and lard are considered forms of Schmalz in German, as is clarified butter. However, English usage tends to follow Yiddish[1][2][3] with respect to both the term's spelling and the limitation of its definition to fat rendered from domestic fowl.

  4. Nagyon szép aranyló színe van a zsírodnak. Én is úgy tudom, hogy a zsír németül Schmalz :-)

    1. Katalin, nagyon bevállott a csirke zsir...csupán azért készitettem mert használtam rostélyos csirke sütésre, bekentem MO-i piros paprikával, és a csirke zsirral...nincs fotó róla, de nagyon finom volt. Ugy szintén fel melegitettem vele nokedlit is! Köszönöm a kedves kommentedet!

  5. Replies
    1. Patty, the Schmaltz is clear, gold colored; it gets thick when it is refrigerated!

  6. Your schmaltz looks like it would make beautiful dishes, liquid gold for sure. And + 1 on the margarine, I'm usually a butter girl.

    And I loved Laverne and Shirley when I was a kid! They don't make shows like that anymore.

  7. I think this schmaltz look beautiful Elisabeth!

  8. Jó írás, tanulni lehet belőle, mivel én németül is beszélek, nekem ezek ismerős szavak :), es persze a schmalz jó dolog,...

  9. Ciao Bella!!!:-))
    How are you?
    Le tue ricette sono sempre molto interessanti,brava cara!!
    Kisses 10000

  10. I had no idea what schmalz was, thanks for the education Elizabeth. I can imagine it makes everything taste quite delicious!

    1. You're welcome, Chris! Yes, it does make everything taste better. So many uses for it.!

  11. wow, what a great post! LOVE Laverne & Shirley and this dish looks fantastic! Yep, these yiddish words were the norm in our house haha

  12. Hi my dear Elisabeth, that's look good. Thanks for sharing, love the golden color. I'm sure it smell extremely fragrant.. :))

    Have a nice day, regards. Hugs to you.


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