Martha+Tom

Chicken Skin Singles

In a world where many people don’t get enough to eat, the fact that Americans waste nearly half their food represents a moral failure. What’s more, with the economic crisis in this country family food budgets are stretched tighter than ever; American families can ill-afford to waste so much. A lot of this waste results from overbuying: stuffing our refrigerators with more food than we can possibly eat before the crisper drawer starts to resemble the cast of Night of the Living Dead. Also responsible, though, are some of the bad — wasteful — habits encouraged by recipe writers that have us discard perfectly good ingredients.

Take chicken skin. Quite a few recipes that call for skin-on chicken parts, browned to contribute to the fond only to remove the skin before continuing with the dish. It makes sense — if the chicken skin was left to stew in the pot it would become flabby and unappetizing, and probably add an unsightly layer of fat. But the implication of the “remove the skin” step is that you should just throw it away. And you’re throwing away a gold mine.

Last night, as I was making a paella with six skin-on chicken thighs, I saved the to-be-discarded skins on a plate. As the paella was steaming, I heated up some schmaltz (saved from a roast chicken a few weeks ago) in a non-stick pan. In went the chicken skin, fried until crisp. Just like that I had the perfect appetizer — think pork rinds, except tastes like chicken — that left me a satisfied and ethical diner.

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2 comments on “Chicken Skin Singles”

  1. Trout Caviar 15 March, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Nice. When I render duck skin to get fat for confit I wind up with a nice little bowl of duck cracklings. I always think I’m going to use them in a salad or an omelet, but they usually wind up getting eaten straight up, ducky little corn nuts.

    Cheers~ Brett

  2. Jeff 15 March, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Great post. My 7 year old daughter calls the chicken skin the “fatnings” and we fight over those thin greasy golden brown slices of heaven.

    Schmaltz is a new word for me … I like it.

    Love your web site, thanks for all the great posts (I’ve made a dozen variations of your Focaccia bread)

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