For some reason, this seems like a good time to talk about schmaltz.
I've always wanted to try schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) because it sounds just the thing I'd want spread on soft bread or mixed in a potato kugel, but I never had the opportunity (though I did see it in the kosher section of a supermarket aisle once).
I tried making it once years ago, but I didn't know what I was doing, so I ended up with a bunch of over-fried gribbenes (unmelted chicken pieces 'n' fried onions) and no schmaltz.
This time, I decided to follow the recipe (in The Spice and Spirit Kosher-Jewish Cooking cookbook) more carefully and it really wasn't difficult.
Now I've made it twice.
And this is how:
As I collected fat & skins over the weeks, I washed them before adding them to the collection in the freezer, so they were clean and ready to render when thawed.
I used any kind of animal fat I'd collected (not just chicken), added the chopped onion and water, then let it simmer forever — I mean, until all the water evaporated and no more fat was melting out of the skins.
In consistency, it turns out like coconut oil: a mushy solid when cold, a liquid when hot.
It's a pale yellow color.
And it really makes the cholent taste better when the onions and meat are browned in the schmaltz.
It is also really good spread on bread and used instead of butter in mashed potatoes.
I also want to try it in pie crust (like for a chicken pie) instead of margarine or oil.
The only downside is that a whole load of saved-up fat renders down to only around a half-cup of schmaltz.
Anyway, now that I see that it's not so hard to make and also very delicious, I've decided to do it regularly, like when ever I have enough fat to make a batch.
Also, it makes me feel so Jewish-housewifey to use the chicken skins and animal fat instead of throwing them in the garbage.
I know animal fat is considered terribly unhealthy nowadays, although I've also heard that's not necessarily true (in some circles, margarine & canola oil are considered much worse than schmaltz).
I think the quality of the fat might also prove to be a big factor.
For example, if you make schmaltz from free-range grass-fed animals that aren't pumped with hormones or antibiotics, your schmaltz will probably be a healthier fat.
But I did this using regular glatt kosher chicken & meat.
Anyway, that's my happy experience with schmaltz.