Ever butchered a plum ole’ hen, duck, turkey or goose and wondered what to do with all that fat?!!! I’ll spare you the pictures, knowing if you’ve ever butcher a bird in this condition, you’ll remember!
Rending poultry fat first entered my head as a friend and I were butchering old hens this spring. As she removing thick layers of yellow “insulation”, she popped a question:
“Is there any way to use all this fat?”
It made my wheels turn. We render pig and beef fat, even deer and elk. Why hadn’t I ever heard of rendering poultry fat? Of course I just had to check it out! Popping online, I quickly discovered that yes, some European countries use it as do some of those within the Jewish culture!
The French toss vegetables in it before roasting. It can also be added to rice or noodles for a poultry-like flavor, used in the frying of vegetable, of mashed potatoes, anywhere you wish to impart that particular flavor! Turkey and chicken fat is deliciously light, while duck and goose tend to be more ‘oily.’ Most commonly used are the first two.
How to Render Fat for Schmaltz
Save the fat found while gutting the bird (usually the gizzard has a good lump surrounding it and if skinning old birds for pressure canning, you’ll have access to more). Cut into pieces and place in a small pot over low heat (I set the stove top at 2). I didn’t add water, just left it to slowly simmer.
It melted beautifully and there in the bottom I found the most delicious cracklings! With a bit of salt I could have eaten it all day. Who knew there was crunchy turkey bacon in existence?! Pouring the melted fat into muffin tins, I partially filled each cup. From there, I popped ’em in the freezer.
Poultry fat doesn’t set up like pork or tallow. It will remain liquefied in our summer temps. In the fridge it will thicken into a pudding-like consistency, but will not harden. The freezer is the only way to get “cubes” for easy of use. It melts quickly. I hardly had time to pop off photos to share!
If You Are Making Broth…
If making a broth with leftover bones and chunks of poultry meat, skim the fats that rise to the top of pot. Or, if you aren’t in a hurry, refrigerate the finished broth until fats harden on the surface. They may then be scooped off with a spoon. Note: consistency won’t get harder than pudding.
It’s delicious stuff…but be sure to keep it frozen unless ready to use. Schmaltz lasts for approx 3 months in the refrigerator and a year + in the freezer. I can almost guarantee it won’t stay around for that long!
It renders a hint of chicken flavor without the overpowering taste of some fats. And it makes for a delicious homemade, whole grain biscuit!