Schmaltz Is the Secret Ingredient You Need For Your Salad

Science and Health

If you, like me, are a regular chicken roaster, you’re halfway to one of the best salad dressings out there: schmaltz vinaigrette, a tangy, savory top coat for a simple salad of mixed greens and whatever you’ve picked up at the farmers market. 

Using a warm fat, like bacon or duck fat, in a vinaigrette is a time-honored practice that works extremely well thanks to the ability of fat to emulsify with the other ingredients, creating a silky, rich dressing. Warm bacon dressing over a spinach salad is a classic for a reason, but I would argue that a good schmaltz vinaigrette is even better.

While my chicken is resting post-roast, I tip the pan, letting the schmaltz and pan juices run into a spouted measuring cup, which I keep by the stove until I’m ready to use it. To make this dressing without roasting a chicken first, take ¼ cup schmaltz (I keep a stash in the fridge) and bring it up to temperature in a sauté pan before drizzling it into the other ingredients.

This dressing is versatile. I usually use apple cider vinegar, but another vinegar or even lemon juice would work beautifully. To add brightness, I throw in chopped herbs from the garden, usually chives and basil, but parsley, tarragon, or oregano are all welcome to join the party. A warm schmaltz vinaigrette can stand up to hearty greens like escarole or even kale, but there’s no need to shy away from the heat when you’re working with lettuces like romaine or arugula. All benefit from a light toss in the good stuff.

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