Ah, Pesach! At first the matzah delights us with its spiritual symbolism and its culinary versatility: farfel, cake meal, matzah brei and more. But by the end of Pesach, we call out “Dayenu!” Enough with the matzoh. Time to return to our leavened life and cleanse our palate so that next spring our bellies pine for matzah.
But Pesach awakens another appetite for me: the hunger for tradition. Last week, a real “oldie but goodie” caught my eye at Seven Mile Market: gribenes — crispy chicken “crackles.” To make gribenes, simply slice excess raw chicken skin into small pieces, fry them until brown and crispy; then fry diced onions, and toss it all with salt and pepper.
Popular with Ashkenazi Jews, gribenes is often mentioned in old stories. It probably fell out of favor due to our emphasis on low-fat foods, but as in all things, try moderation. You can find gribenes recipes and videos online. Eat it as a snack, or serve it as a side dish with rye bread or challah. In the South, Jews add gribenes to jambalaya in place of shrimp. A new twist is serving sides of gribenes with frozen vodka — gribenes shooters. Here are some of my favorite post-Passover, nontraditional recipes. Enjoy, but don’t forget to add a little gribenes to your life. A little tradition — or a bissel schmaltz — couldn’t hurt.
Tips & Tricks
• Go easy on flour when rolling pastry. Just use enough to keep dough sticking. Too much will make dough tough and dry.
• Score an entire eggplant from top to bottom with a fork. This makes the skin tender.
• The edge of a serrated grapefruit spoon easily grabs elusive bits of eggshell.
Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.