Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gribenes - Cracklings for Jews

This recipe is an old school Ashkenazi Jewish treat. Growing up I think we might have had it once or twice, mostly because it's not considered particularly healthy. It's basically chicken skin and fat rendered down. We have chicken soup every Friday night to start the Shabbos meal, so we take the skin and fat from it to make this treat. It's a bit messy and you need a very sharp knife otherwise it's way too much work.

You'll need:
The skin of a chicken, including all the fat
A small onion

We don't really need to add salt without our chicken, since our chickens are salted to remove all the blood as required by Jewish law. 

One kosher chicken...

I'm sure there is more than one way to skin a chicken. Happily I didn't wound myself doing so this week.

The skin! Stretched out on a cutting board. I cut it into 5 chunks for easier working.

You want to basically shred it, cutting it into pieces that are about half an inch on a side. 

And the final product, about a cup of shredded skin and fat.

It's pretty slimy and gross at this point, but it's worth it.
All of that goes into a small pot on high heat.
You need to stir it every a few minutes, but you can mostly leave it to its own devices. Meanwhile chop up the onion. You should cut it pretty finely. I'd suggest a pair of Onion Goggles if you're the sensitive eye type. When the chicken skin has started to get to the dark brown stage, dump in the onions, it should fry easily in the rendered fat, a.k.a. Schmaltz. Speaking of which, my Grandfather of blessed memory, used to spread schmaltz on his toast instead of butter. Now that's old school.

Now you just let it cook down. Another 20 minutes at least, the longer you let it cook the better it is, just don't burn it. When it's a dark brown it should be nice and chewy/crispy. There should be a lot of liquidized chicken fat there, that'd be schmaltz. Save it! We're going to use it for some recipes later in the week.

It's not healthy. But it's darn tasty! Live a little people!

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