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How do I remove the fat from chicken broth?
October 30, 2009 8:19 PM   Subscribe

How do I remove the fat from chicken broth?

I boiled 5 pounds of chicken backs and necks for 3 hours. The last couple times I did this, I put the broth in the fridge, and was able to remove a thick layer of fat. This time I made a lot more broth than usual, so maybe it cooled more slowly in the fridge? The result is that the broth is very fatty, but so homogenized that I can't skim any fat off of it.

I tried reheating some of the broth and putting it in the freezer, but I couldn't figure out if I was skimming fat or gelatin.
posted by esprit de l'escalier to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
let it sit for several hours before you put it in the fridge, because the fat congeals when cold and will not rise to the top.
posted by randomstriker at 8:25 PM on October 30, 2009


You could also strain it through some cheesecloth if you don't want to wait for it to cool. That should get some of the fat out.
posted by mmmbacon at 8:29 PM on October 30, 2009


You can heat it, and use a kitchen gadget that works like a separatory funnel. You pour the broth in, the fat rises to the top, you pull the stopper out of the bottom and the broth drains into a container you put under it. You put the stopper back in as the fat layer approaches.

You might be able to do this college-student-style by using a giant freezer bag, tilting it, and snipping a corner off with some scissors. But this would probably only work with a modest amount of broth, and you may need an extra pair of hands.
posted by Maximian at 8:37 PM on October 30, 2009


If you're asking how to de-fat this batch, heat it up again to melt the gelatin (aspic), and let it sit at room temperature until the fat rises to the top. This should just take a few minutes, maybe a half hour at most. Then you can skim the liquid fat off the top with a spoon, or let the pot cool completely and put it in the refrigerator. It is easy to lift slabs of congealed fat off the surface of cold stock. It's a little harder when everything is frozen - the underside of the fat layer isn't completely smooth and the little blips get trapped by the ice.

If you're asking for the next batch, just let it cool to room temp before skimming the fat. I don't like to chill the stock too rapidly, because if it's very rich the gelatin may set before the fat can completely rise to the surface (besides, it hurts my mind to put a hot pot into the refrigerator - I can just hear the energy bill going up!)
posted by Quietgal at 8:39 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can also try reheating it and skimming the surface with a napkin or a paper towel.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:46 PM on October 30, 2009


I love making homemade broth from roasted chicken carcass, but I just stick the hot pot in the fridge and the next morning I skim off whatever has congealed on top. Maybe I've been doing it wrong? Hm. Anyway, I think I can still contribute one useful (ok, also sort of off-topic, sorry) tip for making broth: buy on of these stainless steel mesh strainers.
I bought a large one from an Asian grocery store a while back and I love it. Reusable! No need for cheesecloth! Multifunctional! And it only cost a few bucks!
posted by thewrongparty at 9:06 PM on October 30, 2009


Can anyone tell me why one should distinguish between the fat and the gelatin? Thanks.
posted by gcat at 9:14 PM on October 30, 2009


By the way, the fat is schmaltz and you can use it in cooking as though it were butter, or even spread it on bread with a good sprinkle of salt.
posted by twistofrhyme at 9:20 PM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


By the way, the fat is schmaltz and you can use it in cooking as though it were butter, or even spread it on bread with a good sprinkle of salt.

Not sure if it counts if it's turkey schmaltz, but I had the fat from Thanksgiving's turkey soup skimmed off and stored to freeze then throw away. It was sitting by the stove and I ended up using it to sautee stuff in instead of oil, just for a change. Things tasted pretty good!
posted by Savannah at 9:37 PM on October 30, 2009


Can anyone tell me why one should distinguish between the fat and the gelatin?

Because the gelatin is inseparable from the broth (it's dissolved), and you DON'T want to discard the broth.
posted by randomstriker at 10:13 PM on October 30, 2009


Thanks a lot everyone! This is all great information.

(I warmed it and I can already see the fat accumulating at the top...)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:31 PM on October 30, 2009


Oh yes, crispy roast potatoes cooked in schmaltz are divine. Schmaltz is great for this recipe, because of its high burning temperature.

Heat the oven to 450F or 225C. Get a few fist-size potatoes (such as King Edward in the UK, or Yukon Gold in the US), peel them, cut them into pieces (each one should be about 2" across, but it's not an exact science - the best roast potatoes are two or three bites), and par-boil them for no more than 5 minutes in salted water. Don't let them overboil and become soft! Drain the potatoes, put them back into the pan and put the lid on. Shake them about a bit (this will 'rough' up the skin and make them crispier).

Put a metal roasting dish into the oven, when the dish is hot, add as much schmaltz as you have and put back in the oven. Ideally it should be about 1/4" deep when melted. If you don't have enough, add some light vegetable oil. When the oil is smoking, add the par-boiled potatoes. Toss them carefully in the hot fat (use a big spoon, don't shake them about), return the dish to the oven and roast for about half an hour, checking and turning the potatoes in the fat to make sure they're done. You'll know when they're done, they'll be lovely and crispy on the outside and light and fluffy inside. They will have absorbed most of the fat.

Drain on kitchen paper, season with a little salt and enjoy the best potatoes ever.
posted by essexjan at 2:46 AM on October 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


but I couldn't figure out if I was skimming fat or gelatin

Assuming it's solid, fat is opaque and a little grainy, and doesn't wobble. The gelatin will be clear to translucent, and wobbles.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:50 AM on October 31, 2009


I've had no problems letting the fat solidify in the fridge, so long as I used containers that were relatively tall and narrow. However, I really wouldn't recommend putting a hot pot of stock straight into the refrigerator. It's going to stay hot for a long time, and will probably heat up the inside of your fridge. I put the pot in an ice-water bath in my sink first, until it's just warm or luke-warm. My grandmother sometimes uses a snowbank for this purpose.
posted by serathen at 6:46 AM on October 31, 2009


If you put it in a tall, narrow container, it's easier to skim off the fat.
posted by theora55 at 10:11 AM on October 31, 2009


I don't understand why people want to remove the fat from chicken(or other types of) soup. Doesn't it contain lots of nutrients and make the soup good for you?
posted by GregorWill at 11:21 AM on October 31, 2009


I don't understand why people want to remove the fat from chicken(or other types of) soup.

A poultry carcass (esp. with skin), when boiled to make broth, emits much more fat than you'd want to eat in your soup.
posted by applemeat at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really like the Oxo fat separator.
posted by valannc at 9:07 PM on October 31, 2009


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