We realized that we cover many Chinese dishes on FoodMayhem, but with the exception of the recent Matzoh Brei post, we rarely discuss Jewish dishes. Tonight we took on that task full charge. Making quite a few dishes at once.

First things first. One of the key ingredients in Jewish cooking is rendered chicken fat, also known by its Yiddish term, Schmaltz. So before cooking, I had to get my hands on some. But where? Well we just made it… it’s not hard.

Rendering Schmaltz

While butchering a chicken, trim off as much fat and skin as you can and dice into pieces no larger than about 1.5″ squares. Place skin and fat in a small, non-stick sauce pot and heat on low, covered, for about 10 minutes, then remove the cover. Continue simmering it until the skin is thoroughly gray and very shriveled. Then remove from heat. Strain out the skin and reserve it.


What you have now is schmaltz. Note it’s golden glow. Seriously, the stuff glows. If you’ve ever wondered why Jewish men are so hairy, it’s because of this stuff, it’ll grow hair on anyone! Plus, it’s a natural preservative due to its extremely long shelf life.

Now, you know homely food, we waste nothing. So it’s time to make Grieven (also known as Gribenes)… this is the Yiddish word for “scraps”. Basically, these are the Jewish version of pork rinds, but in my opinion, infinitely better.

Starting to prepare grieven

Those gray shreds of skin are about to be turned into heaven. Return them to the same pot that you used to render the schmaltz. Or, if you want to do it another day, you can start with a clean, non-stick pot. You don’t need to add any fat, trust me, there’s plenty remaining in that skin. Heat over low, and add diced onion and kosher salt. You can also add some whole cloves of garlic if you like. Don’t worry about over-crowding the pot at this point.

Cook on low until the onion has turned very dark brown, about 15 minutes. At this point, it’s time to crisp the skin. To do so, you must ensure the pot is not over-crowded. Remove enough so there is less than one layer full. Cook on medium-low another 5 minutes until it’s crisp, you should be able to feel this with a fork. Remove contents to a paper-towel lined bowl. Add back reserved skin and fry that, repeat as necessary.


Generally, the onions are burnt and discarded, but sometimes I eat them. This stuff is insanely good. Eat it as a snack, or use it on a salad instead of bacon, or add it to your favorite pasta dish. Trust me, it’s amazing.

posted by Lon at 09:06 AM Filed under Jewish, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.