The Power of Schmaltz

Schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, is a rare delicacy in our age of vegetable oil dominance. It adds a unique savory flavor that's different from cooking with oil, some hounds say. acgold7, for example, says that deep-fried potatoes made with rendered animal fat—whether chicken, turkey, duck, goose, bacon, or a mixture of several—is a winning preparation. "Best. Potatoes. Ever," acgold7 says.

Though the payoff is huge, the process of rendering animal fats takes time. "If you want to make pure schmaltz, you need to slowly render chicken fat and allow its water content to evaporate," JungMann says. "It is a slow and not altogether sweet-smelling process."

benbenberi likes to render animal fat with onions. "Very tasty, and you end up with extra-yummy gribenes too as a bonus," benbenberi says. (Gribenes are the crispy bits of poultry crackling that result from the rendering process.)

Patiently rendered, animal fats like schmaltz will keep for a long time in the refrigerator without molding. "I've kept various animal fats in the fridge for years at a time and never seen mold," acgold7 says. But the luscious drippings from a roasted chicken are not pure fat, JungMann warns. "Chicken contains a higher water:fat ratio than other meats, bacon especially, so your drippings contain myoglobin, blood, water, fluids that will contribute to spoilage," JungMann says. So in the end, schmaltz is probably best used right away, or at most within a couple of days, benbenberi says.

sedimental offers this solution: Freeze the chicken fat, even if it's not completely rendered, and then just break off a piece as needed.

Discuss: How do you keep your schmaltz?