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For the Love of Schmaltz

The polarizing Jewish culinary classic makes headlines this week

Stephanie Butnick
December 13, 2014
Photo of shmaltz made at last year's Schmixer. (Menachem Butler)
Photo of shmaltz made at last year's Schmixer. (Menachem Butler)

“Imagine the gentlest of butters infused with the taste of fried chicken,” Melissa Clark wrote this week in the Times Dining section, “but with a fluffy lightness that melts in the mouth.”

In fact we could. That’s because Clark was referring to schmaltz—that glorious liquified chicken fat that’s a staple of much Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine—and we’ve been hearing about it for years from one of the biggest schmaltz champions around: Tablet’s editor-in-chief, Alana Newhouse.

By now you probably know all about Newhouse’s annual schmaltz-making party, known as the Schmixer, which was featured in the article (which quickly shot to the top of the Times’ most-emailed list, because schmaltz). “Not only does she show people how to make traditional schmaltz, she also encourages guests to flavor individual batches with herbs, spices and even chiles,” Clarke explained of Newhouse and the Schmixer, “Everyone takes home a small Mason jar of the gorgeous fat.”

Everyone but this blogger, who was regrettably out of town for last year’s Schmixer, and who worries that now that the secret’s out, next year’s will be standing room only.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.