Rendering chicken fat is very easy to do in your kitchen. If you don't have any fat chickens to processes and want to try the recipe for crust you can find rendered chicken fat in Jewish markets. It is known as schmalz.
When you process your chickens and have all the feathers removed or if you skin them it is easiest if you can use a small cord and make loops for the feet and be able to hang the chicken upside down at a comfortable working height. I tried this several ways this is the easiest way for me.
With the chicken hanging upside down and the breast toward you - take the tip of your knife and carefully cut through the cavity from one side just behind the vent opening toward the front of the breast and back around to the other side just short of the vent opening. Don't cut through the vent unless you know the birds are cleaned out or you will have poop exposed. Take the tip of your knife and using the side rib bones as your guide cut down from the cavity you opened, through the rib bones to the area where the wing is attached on both sides. A very sharp knife will go through the rib bones with little effort. You can then take your hands and simply pull the breast down and away without breaking it off completely. This will expose the internal organs and cavity. They should stay in one piece neatly compacted together. You will see the liver at the lowest point. Very carefully begin to pull the liver away WITHOUT tearing the membranes. You don't want to rupture the gall bladder and have nasty green bile pouring over your meat. Follow the membranes with your knife and cut them away until the only thing left attached is the bile ducts. Use your knife tip and cut into the liver a tiny bit and cut through the duct and you won't spill one drop of bile. Next, the very hard globe you will see/feel is the gizzard. It most likely will be covered in a layer of fat. Use the tip of your knife and cut it away. The duct openings can be cut through (you won't contaminate your meat with what is in there). The rest of the innards will begin to spill away from the body. You should see a fist sized globe of fat at the top where you first began to cut open the cavaity of the chicken. Simply cut away the membranes and separate out the yellow fat from the skin. This is not a bloody process at all. The inner cavity is not bloody. I have a barrel we build a fire in and burn the rest of the innards. We save the hearts and cook them for our dogs. I know some people eat them. I don't. Put the fat and any peices you are harvesting in water or they will dry out very fast.
There are as many way to render as there are cooks in this world so I am just going to give you the way I do it and you can modify it from there.
The long slow process with a larger quantity of fat is to use a crock pot. Put the fat in. Set on low heat. Let it slow cook over night and through the morning until the rich oily fat has filled the bottom of the pot and the solids have shrunk and are floating. Remove the solids. Keep the lid off the pot. Turn the heat up and let the moisture cook away. Cool the liquid fats. Pour them into an oil separating carafe or a simple clear glass so you can see the fat and any other liquids begin to separate. If you have too much other liquids settling out you can put it in the fridge to help the fat solidify and separate it more quickly from the other liquid. I stored my fat in 1/4 cup portions and put it in the freezer for later use.
A quicker process and one that is often used in the same day to prepare a meal is to simply heat a heavy frying pan. Lay in small cubes of fat. On low heat let it cook until all of the fats are rendered and any moisture has boiled away. Strain, cool and use. Be careul using this manner because the fat can easily burn. Refrigerate/freeze what you don't use.
For everyone gasping at the thought of eating animal fat please don't. Chicken fat can actually be rather healthy in moderation. The saturated fat content is lower than you think. Using the animal fat makes a lighter flakier crust for savory pies as well.
1/4 cup of fat is 4 tablespoons. You won't be sitting down and eating an entire 2 layer pie crust. There are at least 8 servings in a pie. So do the math. It can't be anywhere near what a fast food take-out hamburger is. LOL
You can add flavor to your rendering if you want to by adding finely chopped onion and seasoning as the oils render from the solids. I prefer mine rendered plain so as not to influence the flavor of the dish I am making dough for.
I'll post the dough recipe and edit this post with the link.
Savory Pastry Dough Recipe
Edited by MissPrissy - 1/8/08 at 5:42am