Schmaltz: The Jewish cooking staple becomes a favored fat

Long used in Jewish dishes, schmaltz pops up at Chinese, Icelandic and Japanese restaurants in New York City.

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  • Photograph: Daniel Krieger

    Shio ramen at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Smoked bread with chicken butter at Pearl & Ash

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    De Cicco broccoli at Skal

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Beef-schmaltz crostini at Takashi

Photograph: Daniel Krieger

Shio ramen at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop

It’s played second fiddle to butter for generations, but schmaltz has finally busted out of the Jewish kitchen. The poultry-rendered fat—used as a kosher substitute in matzo ball soup and chopped liver—has gotten the single-subject cookbook treatment, with culinary historian Michael Ruhlman’s The Book of Schmaltz. The fat has also become a hit with New York City chefs. At Ivan Orkin’s soon-to-open Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop (Gotham West Market, 600 Eleventh Ave between 44th and 45th Sts, 212-582-7940), the noodle guru imparts a bit of his Jewish heritage in his signature shio (salt) ramen ($13). To ratchet up the umami factor, he blends the fat into a chicken-and-fish-dashi broth. He’s not the only chef drawing from his Semitic childhood. In an ode to his schmaltz-loving mother, Ben Spiegel uses chicken fat to fry the crumbled anchovies that top roasted De Cicco broccoli ($13) at Icelandic restaurant Skal (37 Canal St at Ludlow St, 212-777-7518). “Schmaltz is more savory than pork fat, which tastes pretty neutral,” says Spiegel. And others are imbuing it into butter. Riffing off chicken and waffles, Richard Kuo pairs moist smoked bread with a schmaltz-and-maple schmear ($4) at Pearl & Ash (220 Bowery between Prince and Spring Sts, 212-837-2370).  At yakiniku house Takashi NYC (456 Hudson St between Barrow and Morton Sts, 212-414-2929), Takashi Inoue slathers a butter-and-beef-fat concoction—which he affectionately calls the “special fat”—onto whole-wheat toast ($12). While it isn’t bird-based, he has dubbed his spread “schmaltz,” a testament to the ingredient’s growing cache. With more chefs catching on to what bubbes have known for years, the liquid gold is finally getting its big, fat due.


Seeking Schmaltz

Here’s where you can find the magic fat.

Dickson's Farmstand Meats
Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (212-242-2630, dicksonsfarmstand.com). $6/pint.

Schatzie the butcher

555 Amsterdam Ave at 87th St (212-410-1555, schatziethebutcher.com). $5/pint.

Lobel's
1096 Madison Ave at 82nd St (212-737-1372, lobels.com). $20/pint.

Ottomanelli Brothers
1549 York Ave at 82nd St (212-772-7900, nycotto.com). $2.95/lb.


Users say

1 comments
shazzz
shazzz

I remember my gran rendering the fat she always added an onion and bits of the skin that would become crispy and addictive like potato chips

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