Recipes Simple Pleasures

Crispy Fried Chicken Skin

Our stand-up freezer stopped freezing sometime in the last 20 hours, so we found ourselves performing freezer food triage earlier today. Fortunately we have a couple of refrigerator/freezer units still functioning in the house, so key frozen meats and other frozen products could be kept ice hard.

However, we did find there wasn’t quite enough space for everything, so in addition to feasting on now thawing left-overs tomorrow, we enjoyed a special treat tonight – Crispy Fried Chicken Skin.

We discovered a couple of months ago that our butcher simply throws out the chicken skin from thighs and breasts when packaging meat for retail sale. What a waste. So we kept a stash of chicken skin in vacuum sealed bags in our now malfunctioning freezer.

As long time fans of pork rinds (zero carbohydrates, and only saturated animal fats if prepared right), chicken skin ranks right up there for us. When fried correctly, chicken skin is like great popcorn – a nice crunch, a bit of greasiness, and a lot of satisfaction in both taste and emotion, but none of the carbs. Ignore the misguided advice to have fat-less (and thus bland and dry) chicken, and instead enjoy the skin, if you can find a good source for it.

Frying up chicken skin is incredibly easy. Get out your deep fat fryer, and turn on high (450 degrees Fahrenheit on the model I use). If your frying temperature is too low, the chicken skin ends up very chewy, so fry at a high temperature.

Cut your chicken skins into small pieces (I find one inch squares to be a good size), and once the oil is at full heat, put the skin in the fryer. Stir a bit to make sure your skins cook separately instead of in a large chunk.

After about 4-6 minutes you should see the skins browning and losing their rubbery textures. Remove from the hot oil onto a plate with a paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Lightly salt with your favorite seasoned salt (I use Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning Рlove that stuff). Let the hot skins sit for a few minutes to allow retained moisture to evaporate, and to let the skins cool down enough to safely eat. Then enjoy.

Crispy Chicken Skin at Kori & Fay in Berlin, Germany
Crispy Chicken Skin at Kori & Fay in Berlin, Germany

I will note that several Asian restaurants I’ve eaten at offer crispy chicken skin on their menus as well. I have had it Yakitori-style (grilled on a skewer) at Japanese restaurants in New York and San Francisco, and most recently in a spicy sauce in Berlin at Kori & Fay (see picture above).