Sitka & Spruce Makes Good Use of Chicken Fat"/>
I'm just back from a terrific culinary walking tour with Voracious' own Leslie Kelly that started and ended at Pike Place Market--and covered so much ground in between that we crossed three creases on my fold-out city bike map.
While it isn't easy to pick a lone standout on an agenda that included a smoked-fish sampler from Seatown; a mofo sandwich from Salumi and a smattering of regional cheeses from cheesemongers who were willing to play along when we asked them which local cheese they liked best, I was especially fond of Sitka & Spruce's chicken-liver pate, plated with tightly wound pickled fiddlehead ferns and warm slices of crusty raisin bread.
Leslie continues to correctly refer to the dish as pate, but as I raved and reached for more, I kept using the term "chopped liver." Not because the pate was dry, crumbly, or as easily ignored as the prosaic chopped livers which inspired the old "What am I, . . . ?" line. What had me conflating my liver dishes was chicken fat. While pates are often made with only butter or cream, the rules of kashrut make schmaltz the fat of choice for enriching chopped liver.
Our server confirmed the plush, custardy liver was made with chicken fat, a recipe that will be repeated in home kitchens around the world next week as Jewish cooks prepare for Passover. While it's possible to pull off the holiday without serving chopped liver, few spreads are better smeared on matzah--and Passover is a schmaltz bonanza.
Unlike lard, its gentile equivalent, schmaltz is remarkably easy to make. When chicken soup chills in the refrigerator, the fat congeals at the top of the pot. That's schmaltz, just waiting to be skimmed and mixed into chopped liver. It has a robust, rustic flavor I far prefer to butter.
Unfortunately, I have no idea how to replicate Sitka & Spruce's magnificent pickled fiddlehead ferns. I may just have to make a second lunch date.