Rediscovering Culinary Heritage… and Fat.

chicken-skinWhat, you might ask, are these little darlings? Well, that is a gribene. Did I know this until like 10 minutes ago? No. Because I’m apparently too far from the New York home of my family’s culinary heritage, I’ve never before had a gribene. Luckily I don’t need to learn this at the foot of my mother’s stove because Wikipedia can teach me in 5 minutes what previous generations spent years learning.

Allow me to explain. After spending a therapeutic and much needed long day in the kitchen (making chicken sausages with Traca, from Seattle Tall Poppy, if you must know), I had still not made anything for dinner. I wasn’t about to start now! I’m a far bigger fan of random culinary projects than useful food.

I took all the leftover chicken bones and started a stock on one half of the stove and took all the skin and fat and threw them in a skillet to begin rendering into that much beloved tool of Jewish cooking, schmaltz. Mmm, mm, chicken fat delicious! But then it struck me… what if I ate the skin once it has no fat and is all crispy like an avian chicharron? Brilliant! But also, as noted above, apparently previously discovered. And apparently a part of my beautiful Jewish culinary heritage. Sounds pretty good to me. I mean, they were no less delicious than if I had been the first to figure them out. And at least my unknown comes from my own part of the food map. I like that. Just one more reason that being a Jew provides for good eating–not that I need one, you had me at Matzoh Ball Soup.


I served these crumbled over a salad of arugula dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So it was dinner too, I suppose.

Put the chicken skin and fat–I used the trimmings from 7 pounds of thighs, but whatever you’ve got, use it–in to a pan over low heat. As it gives off fat, turn it up to medium. The fat will release for about 10 minutes, at which point the skin will feel crispy and start to look very brown. Remove from the fat (save in the fridge for other uses) and drain over paper towels. Salt immediately after they leave the oil. Eat them as soon as they’ve cooled enough to touch!


6 Responses

  1. Oooh, the ultimate luxury!

  2. So here’s the thing. I checked out your blog earlier today on a whim, because I wondered if you were still updating.

    And then.

    And then.

    Your fucking little brother showed up on Jeopardy! Tonight! While I am here making dinner!


    Seriously, it’s one of the most surreal experiences ever. I was like, “that guy looks like Gnome’s little brother, and his name is Ben! What a coincidence!” So I looked him up on the Jeopardy page, and unless there is another young Seattleite Ben Bishop on Jeopardy today, then it’s him. I repeat:


  3. sounds delicious! I’d never ever think about making fried pork skins at home but I often have chicken skin around. What in the world do you do with schmaltz?

  4. those would go well with a lot of salt, and love.

    nice post!

  5. nice entry. i like your blog man.

  6. @foodhoe –
    As a kid, we used to put schmaltz in our mashed and basked potatoes in place of butter.

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