Schmaltz

August 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments

The Yiddish word “schmaltz” has entered the American lexicon. It is usually applied to entertainment, meaning corny or over sentimental. Schmaltz, of course, is chicken fat, the basis of much tasty Eastern European Jewish cuisine. When HG was a boy, HG’s Father took the little fellow to clothing shops on the Lower East Side. The shops were owned by friends of HG’s Father and there was much happy Yiddish conversation while little HG was praised for his good looks and intellect. A heavy mackinaw was bought in one place, ear flapped cap in another. Corduroy knickers climaxed the shopping. HG and Father lunched in one of the many “Romanian broilings” restaurants in the neighborhood (Sammy’s Romanian is the last remaining). Dad and son ate “carnezelach” (cigar shaped broiled chopped beef stuffed with chopped onions and garlic accompanied by fried “silver dollar” potatoes. There was a pitcher of chicken fat on the table and was poured generously over the dishes (plus the accompanying sliced raw onions and pumpernickel bread). HG still dreams about those lunches. Chicken fat is versatile. Obligatory with chopped liver. Great with mashed potatoes (or kasha) and fried onions. HG’s Mom added it to “tzimmes”, a long simmered dish of carrots, honey and cinnamon (plus chicken feet which added a gelatinous texture). Some Chinese chefs fry triangles of red pepper in chicken fat and use the peppers to top noodle dishes. Very hard to find chicken fat these days, but quite easy to render at home. Although, in a pinch, you can still find it online from some kosher food suppliers.

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