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Mike Wolfberg's Recipe for Rendered Chicken Fat

This is a crucial ingredient in certain Jewish cooking, especially for matzo balls and chopped chicken liver. I also use it to make kasha varnishkes. I have been told it can be used along with vegetable oil when frying potato latkes. You can make this golden liquid fat (which solidifies) and keep it for months in the refrigerator. My grandmother, Carrie Rodenberg, taught me how to do this, but I think this is no special recipe.

several pieces of fat from chickens
When you buy an old chicken, called a fowl, for making soup, you will find quite a bit of fatty pieces as part of the chicken. If you buy roasters and fryers, you might save hunks of fat over the course of time - just keep them in a bag in the freezer. Once you have accumulated at least about 1/2 pound of fat, it is worth rendering. If I don't have any on hand, my butcher is happy to save a large bag of the fat for me, which he apparently can save as a by-product of his cutting up chickens. If you use one pound of fat, you will get about 1 1/4 cups of the liquid.

1-2 medium onions
peeled and chopped into medium-size pieces; the amount depends upon how much fat you are rendering

  1. Cut up the hunks of fat into pieces which are smaller than one inch cubes. Place these in a frying pan which has a lid. Cover the fat pieces with water, cover the pan, and place it on medium heat.

  2. Let this cook for 10-15 minutes to steam and extract the liquid fat from the fatty hunks. Then uncover and continue to cook until all the water boils away.

  3. Add the chopped onions to fill the pan moderately. Cook these without burning them until they are quite golden brown. The fat too should be darkening along with the onions. This takes about 10-15 more minutes.

  4. Before the onions get to a dark, burnt point, remove from the heat, and pour the hot liquid through a strainer into some container which can take heat, such as a Pyrex measuring cup. You now have the chicken fat. Move it to a container you can keep in the refrigerator for a long time, and cover it.

back to the top of this page This page, maintained by Mike Wolfberg, was last updated on May 06, 2012.