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Four Jewish dishes from one cosmopolitan chicken

Schmaltz, gribenes, helzel and chicken soup with knedles.

The special feature of the Ashkenazi culinary technique may be defined as the predominance of methods designed to change rather than to preserve the flavor. In Ashkenazi cuisine, there are no dishes made from very expensive ingredients, special herbs and spices, or exquisite and effective culinary techniques devised by court chefs. Perhaps for this reason, Jewish cuisine is the greatest in the world. Its sublime nature lies in its limitless devotion to its own people, in the numerous inventions that are so effective in the eternal war with constant poverty, in the heroic joy of the Saturday and festive meal.

Rational Jews like to make use of everything. We use chicken meat for stock, we turn fat into schmaltz, and we stuff the skin from the necks, but then the rest of the chicken skin is still left over. If you fry it with onions, you get the traditional Jewish gribenes! Once this snack was considered one of the traditional Shabbat dishes, but we will prepare it with the schmaltz.

Schmaltz (Jewish lard) with gribenes

Schmaltz is a kosher dish, and differs from Ukrainian lard in that it is not made from pork fat, but from goose or chicken fat. Schmaltz is used in preparing dishes, for frying, and also as a snack that can be spread on bread.


4 cups of chicken fat

one cup of onions cut into rings, with several chopped cloves of garlic

chicken skin cut into small pieces

coarse salt, a dash of pepper

Preparation method:

Place the fat and the chicken skin in a shallow frying pan and add salt and pepper.

Stew on a low heat without covering the pan with the lid. When the fat starts to melt, add onion (and if desired, a few cloves of garlic), and continue to cook until the onion turns golden.

Jewish chicken soup with knedles

!!! For a full “Jewish” effect, as soon as people bring the spoons to their mouths, but haven’t yet tried the soup, you should ask with a worried voice: “How is it? Delicious?” with a subsequent deep and long-suffering sigh…

Ingredients for the soup:

2 small chickens (or one large one)

1 unpeeled onion cut in half

1 celery stalk

2 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

several sprigs of parsley

several black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon of salt

Knedles (for around 20 balls):

1 egg

30 grams of schmaltz

3 tablespoons of water or stock

100 gr. of matzah meal

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preparation method:

Put all the ingredients for the soup in a large pot, add water and bring to the boil. Remove the foam with a skimmer and cook at a low heat for around three hours. Take out the chicken, allow the soup to cool, and remove the fat from the surface (there’s your schmaltz!)

To make the knedles, whip an egg in a deep bowl, and add schmaltz.

Continue to stir, and add water (stock), matzah meal, salt and pepper. Roll into a dough. Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour (it can be left overnight), then make balls the size of walnuts. Cook in boiling water for 40 minutes, until they float to the surface. (You can also cook them in the soup, but then they won’t be transparent). Place in bowls and pour the hot soup over them.

Helzel (stuffed chicken necks in the Jewish style)

The tradition of stuffing chicken and goose necks is not only popular among the Jews, but also among the Tatars. Unlike the Jews, the Tatars stuff them with mince and bake them. But we like to prepare them modestly, with semolina and schmaltz, and then we stew them in the stock.


skins of chicken necks

3 tablespoons of flour

1 tablespoon of semolina

schmaltz (chicken or goose fat) – 2 tablespoons

1 small onion


black pepper to taste

Preparation method:

In a cup, mix the dry semolina, flour, schmaltz, onion fried in melted chicken fat (or raw onion), salt and black pepper. This is the filling.

Carefully remove the skin from the necks of 2-3 chickens. Sew up one end or pierce with a toothpick, prepare the filling and stuff the neck, and sew up the other end, or pierce with a toothpick. The necks can be cooked in water or stock. Before serving cut into slices.

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