I have been asked several times over the last 6 months if we ever offer chicken fat on the menu. It’s been on my wish list for some time, but we so rarely have enough to actually put it on the menu. This just so happens to be the first week we have ~ and it’s not a lot! So if you’re interested, please let me know!
After years and years of marketing refined oils as a healthier option, researchers are now advising just the opposite and suggesting chicken fat as an alternative. Using chicken or duck fat in moderation can actually be good for you. There’s more nutritional value for sure. We use chicken fat in place of butter or oils or other fats for a variety of recipes. Most often I use it to enhance stocks or for vegetable or potato sautés or as a spread on toasted artisan breads. We have used it to make tortillas and they turned out perfect. It’s really amazing to add to a potato dish, particularly if you’re striving for a crispy potato ~ like latkes! Chicken fat can take on a higher heat (375) than butter (350) so getting a good crisp on potatoes (and other foods) without burning is easy and extra delicious! We keep just a small amount of chicken fat in the fridge. It lasts for about 7 days in a jar. But we keep larger amounts in the freezer. It freezes really well for up to 6 months.
I’m not a baker, but I was curious about how chicken or duck fat is used in baking, so I did a little poking around. Apparently pie crust for savory dishes like chicken pot pie or quiche is a common use. Corn bread was another and gave the bread a beautiful golden color. If using in cake or cookie recipes, it’s suggested to use it in chocolate or spiced recipes because those flavors hide the subtle “chickeny” flavor. For dinner rolls or breads, chicken fat lends a lot of flavor that marries well with whatever herbs you’re using.
Then there’s gravies, sauces, tamales, spreads and even pastas and waffles that incorporate chicken fat for deeper flavor. And of course matzo balls — the best and truly athentic are made with chicken fat ~ also known as schmaltz. The idea is to think out of the box about how you might use chicken fat ~ probably not good on ice cream, but to each her own.
Below are a couple of simple recipes using chicken fat. The spread is to die for. I have not tried the Skillet Corn Bread, but come on… it’s gotta be good.
Apple, Onion and Thyme Spread ~ using Chicken Fat!
Makes approximately 1-1/2 cups
- 1 organic green apple, unpeeled, diced
- 1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons fresh organic thyme – rough chopped, no stems
- 8 oz organic chicken fat
- 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh organic chives – chopped
- Kosher salt & cracked black pepper to taste
- optional garnish: whole tricolored peppercorns and sprigs of thyme
In a small sauce pan, warm chicken fat. Add in apple, onion, and thyme. Gently sauté until onion is caramelized and apple is very soft. Remove from heat and put into blender. Blend until all ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth. Put mixture in bowl and into fridge until completely cooled. When cooled, whip mixture until light and fluffy – like a whipped butter. Add lemon zest, chives, salt and pepper and incorporate. Fantastic on toasted artisan bread or spread on sandwiches and wraps or dollop on top of eggs or potatoes!
Here’s the Skillet Corn Bread recipe I found:
Skillet Corn Bread
- 2 cups coarse-grind cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons chicken fat – 1 reserved for prepping skillet
- 1/3 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno – seeds removed
- optional 2 T honey
Place a rack in middle of oven and set cast iron skillet on rack; preheat to 450°F. Whisk cornmeal, sugar (if using), kosher salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl to combine. Whisk egg, chicken fat and buttermilk in a medium bowl; add to dry ingredients and mix in jalapeño to incorporate. Carefully remove your skillet from the oven, add 1 tablespoon chicken fat, and swirl in pan to coat. Scrape batter into skillet (it should sizzle around edges on contact). Bake cornbread until top is golden brown and center is firm, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving. Spread butter (and honey if using) over cornbread and cut into 8 pie-slice portions.