I hope you are wondering what gribenes are. Even more I hope that after reading this you will do what is required to make them.
If you are Jewish, you may already know. Gribenes are the by-product of schmaltz. That doesn’t make them sound at all delightful does it? And what is schmaltz?
Quite simply schmaltz is rendered chicken fat cooked with onions. Simple ingredient list – chicken skin, water, onions. Simple to prepare. The flavor…distinctive, a bit buttery, a bit oniony, rich and clean and simply delish!
I had never heard of schmaltz until a few months ago when Michael Ruhlman published a small ebook titled The Book of Schmaltz – A Love Song to a Forgotten Fat. One thing you know about me, if Ruhlman writes it, I am going to read it!
I began my freezer collection of chicken skin right away, anxious to taste for myself this fat that is “unlike anything else.”
And so finally I had enough in the freezer, and time on a Saturday to give it a go.
Here’s what you need:
Skin from 8 chicken thighs
1/4 cup water
1 onion, diced
Chop the skin into small pieces, this is infinitley easier if the skin is still at least partially frozen.
Place in sauce pan with water and bring to a simmer over high heat.
Reduce heat to low and cook until fat is rendered and skin begins to brown. This can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Once the water cooks off is when the browning begins, but you don’t want to rush this or you end up with roasted fat. You want a clean, clear schmaltz.
Once the skin is golden, add the onion and continue to cook very slowly until the skin and onions are a very deep brown. Strain them and set aside on a paper towel. Pour schmaltz into a jar, allow to cool. Both can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for months.
This makes 1/2 cup of schmaltz.
I had double the amount of skin when I made mine, and thus it was truly an all-afternoon affair to render the fat. Be patient! It’s worth it.
Now for the gnocchi. I love these gnocchi, they are quick, require no boiling and are always super light and fluffy. My normal method for this recipe is to cook down some pancetta, crisp up the gnocchi in the pancetta drippings, then add whatever fresh spring veggie I am craving at the time, think fresh May peas here, and there you go! So, if you aren’t up for making schmaltz, pancetta is a worthy, albeit entirely different substitute!
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
3/4 gluten free all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, just until mixed.
Turn dough out onto floured surface, cut into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a small rope, using a bench scraper or knife, cut into 1-inch pieces and place on a baking sheet or large plate. Freeze for 5-10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours until ready to cook.
1 bunch fresh asparagus
juice of lemon
red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Remove tough stems from asparagus.
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
Boil asparagus for 2 minutes, less for thin ones, just until the color turns very bright and they are crisp tender. Place in ice water to stop the cooking process.
In a large saute pan, heat 3-4 TB of schmaltz until shimmering. Add gnocchi in batches, being sure not to crowd pan, and cook until browned. Move to serving bowl.
Squeeze juice of a lemon on top.
Add blanched asparagus and 1/4 cup or more of gribenes and pinch of red pepper flakes and salt to saute pan. Toss to coat with schmaltz and heat through, just a minute or so. Pour over gnocchi, toss, add more parmesan cheese and serve.
UP NEXT…you know what I did with the leftover ricotta right? Cheesecake!!!