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Two days ago I prepared some chicken stock. During the preparation, I took care to skim the grayish foam (as per procedure) and all went well. I usually freeze it for future use but this time I didn't have the time, so I put the stock in the fridge.

Later on I noticed a thin yellowish crust formed at the top of the cold stock. My guess is that it's fat that separated from the rest of the stock, so I skimmed it and saved it.

  1. Is it really fat?
  2. What can I do with it?
  3. Should I return it to the rest of the stock?
  4. Would the lack of fat adversely affect the stock?
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, it is really chicken fat rendered during the stock making process.

Called schmaltz in Yiddish, it is an ingredient in its own right. For example, you can use it to fry foods, or instead of butter in creating a roux, when you would like the chickeny flavor it provides. It is a key ingredient in matzo balls, and similarly, makes spectacularly good dumplings of various sorts. You can refrigerate it for several months, tightly covered.

It is not necessary to return it to the stock, although you may use it as an additional ingredient in the dishes you make with the stock.

Stocks are normally defatted anyway, so you do not need to return it to your stock.

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Schmaltz isn't usually prepared boiling poultry, but melting the fat on a pan over low heat –  belisarius Nov 5 '13 at 16:25
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@belisarius: What's your source for this? My mother and grandmother both made their schmaltz when making soup, and never by rendering the fat from the chicken over low heat. The historical reason for this is that one simply does not have chickens to "waste" just on making schmaltz, and it was an important byproduct. Whenever making something with as expensive (again, historically) an ingredient as chicken, one would use the whole bird. –  razumny Nov 5 '13 at 16:29
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@razumny Oh, ok. Probably my grandmother got her recipe from Wikipedia :) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schmaltz –  belisarius Nov 5 '13 at 16:31
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Stock with the fat is usually considered more valuable than one without it.

You may remove it if you need it for other purposes or want to keep your stock low-calorie, but otherwise it holds some flavor which will be removed if you remove it.

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Yes, that is fat. I can a lot of chicken meat from stewing hens and simmer 30 hens at a time in a large boil pot. Afterwards I chill the broth and peel a thick layer of fat from the top, clarify the fat by heating it on the stovetop to drive away any moisture, and strain it through flour sack towels into pint jars and freeze it. It comes out as white as pork lard, but with a chicken smell. I use it like butter or in dishes that could use some fat. Sometimes it replaces the butter in mac and cheese, sometimes I just spread it on bread. Earlier today I spread it on some lefse, wrapped some Spam slices up in the lefse, and had a wonderful sandwich.

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