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Cellas Corner: Try rendering chicken fat, to use as an oil substitute

WEST VALLEY — Recently, I experimented with rendering chicken fat, or schmaltz. Schmaltz is a staple in Jewish cuisine and can be used in matzo ball soup, kishke, kreplach, potato pancakes, chopped liver and many other dishes. Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat that is flavored with onion.

It is best to use chicken skin and fat from organic, pasture-raised chickens. Contact a butcher to see if you can purchase some chicken skin and fat to render, or save every bit and piece you can spare, when you are preparing chicken dishes.

Place skin and fat in a plastic bag and put in the freezer until you have enough to process. Have family and friends save the chicken skin and fat for you also, if they will.

I mixed together grated potatoes and onions and dropped heaping tablespoons of them into a 1/4-inch layer of hot schmaltz in a skillet and browned them on both sides. The schmaltz crisps up the potato pancakes better than other oils and imparts an excellent flavor.

You can use the schmaltz in any dish you want, for more chicken flavor. The remaining crispy fat bits and onions are known as gribenes and can be lightly salted and eaten.

A gardening friend of mine gave me several squash and rutabagas. I didn’t think that I would like the rutabagas, but I watched Chef David Bishop on YouTube prepare it. I followed his instructions and found out I love rutabagas made the chef’s way.

Please give this bulbous vegetable a try. I’ve made it four times already and plan to make it again, tomorrow. The rutabagas are from the cabbage family and have many health benefits, but people with kidney problems are advised to avoid it.

Mashed Rutabaga
Chef David Bishop

3-4 cups water (just enough to cover rutabaga)
1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 pinches crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon bacon grease
1, 2-pound rutabaga, peeled and diced in 1-inch pieces, to make about 4 heaping cups
butter, salt and pepper, to taste

Place water, sugar, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper and bacon grease in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, while you prepare the rutabaga. Peel and slice rutabaga into chunks. Add it to the water mixture and simmer for 45 minutes or until the rutabaga is tender enough to mash. Drain rutabaga, mash it and season with butter, salt, and pepper.

Oyster Cracker Snack Mix
Florence Richards

16-ounce package oyster crackers
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 packet of powdered ranch dressing mix

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Place on a large, ungreased baking sheet with 1-inch edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
4 cups raw chicken skin and/or fat, diced small
1 medium onion, sliced

Place raw chicken skin and fat in a heavy-bottom, non-reactive pan (no cast iron, copper or aluminum). To get started, add a tablespoon or two of water. Cook over very low heat, stirring often until fat is rendered out and the skin pieces begin to brown, or about 20 minutes. Add the onion slices and continue cooking over low heat until onions and fat pieces are lightly browned. Schmaltz should be yellow in color – do not allow to brown. Strain rendered chicken fat through cheesecloth and/or a fine mesh strainer into a glass canning jar. Cool. Refrigerate. Makes about 1 cup.

Neverland Cookies
Crispy peanut butter, white chocolate, Macadamia nut cookies

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups white all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12-ounce bag of white chocolate chips
6.5-ounce jar of whole Macadamia nuts

In a large mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter, butter, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Gradually mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in white chocolate chips and Macadamia nuts. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter unto an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let rest on cookie sheet for a minute and then transfer to a wire cookie rack to cool. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, N.Y. 14171 or e-mail me at Providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood.

Visit my website at for more recipes and archived newsletters.

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