Schmaltz is rendered goose or chicken fat used in Yiddish, German and Polish cuisine. You can grease a frying pan with it, spread it on toast like butter, mix it with matzo crumbs for matzo balls, melt it and pour it on salad as a dressing (!), or use it to make chopped liver (WHAT AM I) which is basically liver pate.
We think of foie gras as being French, but in its earliest form, it originated when Jews migrated to Eastern Europe from the Middle East or Mediterranean. They couldn’t rely on butter or lard as a cooking fat, since it isn’t kosher to mix dairy & meat, nor eat pork period. And in Europe, they couldn’t find the olive or sesame oil they’d used in the Middle East. So they fattened up their geese, rendered the fat, and it became their substitute for butter and olive oil. Mmmmmm….?
Some restaurants (notably Sammy’s Roumanian in NYC) offer schmaltz as a table condiment.
My friend Kelly My friend Kell’s friend’s friend’s friend ate there recently and said it was scrumptious, and if you know me at all, you know I love me some fatty food. Totally gonna dip into the schmaltz next time I’m in NYC.
Schmaltzy photo by Eve from Garden of Eating.