Chicken skins are the new pork rinds. Discuss.
October 24th, 2013
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's installment comes courtesy of Sara Camp Arnold, the editor of SFA's quarterly publication, "Gravy."

We’ve noticed chicken skins popping up on menus across the South lately, threatening to eclipse their porcine cousins (by which we mean pork skins, aka chicharrones, aka pork rinds).

One of the chefs leading the chicken-skin charge is Matt Kelly of Mateo Tapas and Vin Rouge in Durham, North Carolina.* Back in June, he masterminded a collard salad with chicken-skin “chicharrones” for our New York Potlikker. Matt kindly shared his recipe with us, so that you can recreate this funky riff on Tar Heel favorites (note the collard greens, peanuts, and barbecue sauce–inspired dressing) at home.

Collard Salad with Chicken Skin “Chicharrones,” Crispy Shallots, Peanuts, and BBQ Vinaigrette

1 lb. raw chicken skins
2 quarts lard (or duck fat)
1 bunch young collards or kale
6-7 large shallots
1 head garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups raw peanuts
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 cup fish sauce (Matt recommends 3 Crabs or Red Boat brand)
1 cup sherry vinegar
1 fresh egg
1 gallon peanut oil
Fine sea salt
Black pepper

1. Clean the chicken skins. Poach in pork fat/lard/duck fat for 1 hour at 200F in the oven. Remove and drain the chicken skins let cool. Heat peanut oil to 325F gently add skins and allow to crisp like a pork rind. Once crispy drain skins on a paper towel. Season with salt and black pepper. Reserve.

2. Clean collards and remove stems. Blanch for 6-7 minutes, then shock in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
(You can substitute mustard greens, baby collards and different types of kale.)

3. Fry 2 cups thinly sliced shallot in peanut oil at 275F until golden brown; drain and store on an absorbent paper towel. Fry 1/2 cup of garlic to golden brown at the same temperature drain and store on an absorbent paper towel. Increase the oil temperature to 350F and fry 2 cups of peanuts until golden brown; drain and let cool. Once cooled, roughly chop the peanuts. Combine crispy shallot, garlic, and chopped peanuts. Toss with brown sugar and sea salt. Set aside.

4. Combine in blender 1 cup fish sauce, 1 cup sherry vinegar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, one egg yolk, 1 tbsp ground black pepper, 2 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika. Blend ingredients until sugar is dissolved and slowly add 2 cups peanut oil until emulsified. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

5. To assemble salad, season collards with salt and black pepper, dress with BBQ vinaigrette and let marinate for a minimum of five minutes. Once the collards have been marinated, add the crispy chicken skins and place on the serving dish. Sprinkle a liberal amount of the fried peanut, garlic and shallot mixture on top of the salad and serve.

* PS: Another North Carolinian making use of chicken skins is Vivian Howard, who topped a chicken and rice bog with crispy herbed chicken skins at our Tabasco Luncheon during the Southern Foodways Symposium.

Read more at the Southern Foodways Alliance's blog

Previously:
Dessert debate: cake vs pie
Barbecue Digest: It's a pig, not a fruit
Fried chicken gets fancy – and kinda freaky

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Filed under: Make • Recipes • Southern • Southern Foodways Alliance • Tailgating


soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. icecoldmilk

    pretty sure you could easily make this without the lard. just spread the skins on a baking sheet or something, season, and bake in the oven. i don't understand why the lard is involved, as chicken skin always gets super crispy with no extra grease at all. is there a reason for it?

    May 7, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  2. AcadianAtHeart

    I've been making Cacklin Cracklins for a little while since I found this: http://www.realcajuncooking.com/2009/10/cacklin-cracklins.html. They taste *very* much like pork cracklin's I buy when I'm in Cajun country!
    (For the second cooking I do them on medium power. And use Cajun seasoning rather than just salt and pepper.)

    November 8, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  3. Manswer

    I'm going to try this recepie tonight! :) :D :-)

    November 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  4. CLOWN

    I think I will stick to my baked chicken, probably better for me.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • Jimmy

      Hey CLOWN. Exactly you are a CLOWN. Of course baked chicken is better for you! Was that McDonalds good for you? Was that large soda good for you? Quit trying to act like you are healthy, because we all know what you really look like behind the computer screen. You're probably eating fried chicken right now.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  5. Shay

    No wonder heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • Mr. Joesen

      And that is why you are so stupid. Because you try to put others down right away. This article is about a new food growing in popularity in the US. You take this opportunity to put others down and put shame on the US. PLEASE get off of your toilet pedestal and stick your head in it. You would do us all a favor!

      November 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  6. Alger

    Jews have been been making Schmaltz for generations, one of the bi-products is crispy chunks of chicken skin called gribbenes. You take the fat and the skin from the a chicken (my mother mostly just used the skin from the chicken necks, but any skin will do.) Cut the skin into small pieces – not bigger than about an inch square. Chop up an onion and put it all in a frying pan with the chicken fat. The fat will melt and the remaining fat on the skin will also render off. When the onion bits get good browned (I like them almost burned) and the chicken skin gets browned ans shrink up, drain off the rendered fat into a bowl. Then place the onions and the skins into a strainer lined with paper towel or cheese cloth and let this drain for awhile into the bowl as well. As it drains the skins and onions will get a bit more crispy. Put the bowl of fat into refrigerator to solidify – this is what is called schmaltz. It will have a nice flavor from the onions and can be used spread on bread or to flavor other cooking. The onions and the skins get consumed like popcorn with a little salt or between small pieces of bread – we always wrapped it up in small chunks or challah. But don't wait too long or the skins will get a bit soggy. Oh and expect a bit of heart burn to follow the pleasure of consuming this ethnic treat.

    November 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • mikeh420

      My brother and I used to fight over this stuff. Most delicious part of the chicken after the soup!

      The headline should read: Pork Rinds are the new Gribbenes.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Reply
    • 123elle

      Yum! You just brought back some of my most wonderful memories.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  7. fredo

    I've been making these for years, in the microwave. 1 step. Works like a charm.....

    November 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  8. The Man Show

    Umm, like Bucket O'Skins anyone....

    November 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  9. Chilltown JC

    Brother Akbar would make these for us for $1 per back with a secret sauce. Muslims don't eat pork was this an alternative to the pork rind. Simply delicious. I'm not a muslim, but when I go to Jersey City, I look for those chicken skins!

    November 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  10. esbrent

    My grandmother made the BEST fried chicken. I took it a step further by separating the fried chicken from its fried skin. Then I would smear apple sauce on two slices of white bread, add the chicken skin, and munch away. If we didn't have applesauce, I would use mayonnaise on the bread, add the fried chicken skin, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Mind you, I was 11 years old the last time I did this. That was just 4 years ago! (NOT!)

    November 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Derp

      " That was just 4 years ago! (NOT!)" Fooled me

      November 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Reply
      • esbrent

        Just having fun.

        November 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  11. Dirt

    Paula Dean fries hers in butter!

    October 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  12. njclay2004

    Wow, I thought this was something my family came up with! I remember going to grandma's house after school and she would have a metal tin filled with... Fried Chicken Skin! Sounds disturbing written out but man it was delicious...

    (mind you, it wasn't that long ago... something like the early 90s?)

    October 29, 2013 at 7:54 am | Reply
  13. Urbangirlatl

    Given the popularity of the skin off the fried turkey, the only surprise is why I haven't tried this before!

    October 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  14. Thinking things through

    I like crispy-fried chicken skin, from pastured chickens. You wouldn't want your diet to be made completely from them (or completely from any other one item), but in its place, it is GOOD.

    October 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  15. Charlotte

    Gross and gross. I wouldn't eat either of them.

    October 27, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply
  16. ERTEWRT35234234265

    GDFGDFG

    October 25, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
    • Paul C

      This may be new to the South, but this has been a traditional food since the 18th or 19th Century, and possibly well before. in the European Jewish culture.

      October 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
      • Swerds

        Yea gribenes! Jewish bacon and a staple of my childhood.

        October 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  17. VladT

    I applaud that no one has done the self-loathing "Americans are obese" comments.

    This may contribute, but.........

    Darn it, those sound soooooooooo good

    October 25, 2013 at 3:45 am | Reply
    • fj

      If you add enough spices to something putrid and fry it, it turns out delicious. Mexicans do this all the time, just add chile and lime to some fried bugs, and voila they taste delicious!

      October 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  18. LaQuencha Thurst

    Wake me when they be makin fried chicken foreskins.

    October 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
    • fj

      next thing you know they'll be eating fried chicken buttholes

      October 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  19. Robin Burns

    Out of desperation due to severe food allergies, I've been making "Chicken Bacon" for years! It's addicitve and doesn't require deep frying, just fry the skin in an iron skillet until it's as brown as bacon and as crisp as you'd like it. Salt freely. Yum!

    October 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  20. kitchengirl

    When I was a little girl my Mom would take extra chicken skins and simply place them in a frying pan. They created their own oil for frying. After cooking til crispy she would let them cool on a paper towel. She called them gribbinas. I think it was a yiddish term. So tasty!

    October 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  21. Suzanne

    In my family we always end up fighting for the turkey skin at the holidays. The skin is the best part, when it's all brown and crispy.

    October 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  22. Pacific Merchants

    I've done something similar with turkey skins and OMG, it was totally worth it. I just baked them down between two silpats and ended up with these amazing crisp turkey chips (which admittedly, I turned into nachos.) YUM!

    October 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • Ethan Richards

      Oh man, yeah. Chicken skin is great and all, but turkey skin works so much better for this sort of thing.

      October 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  23. RC

    Want.....need.....must......have.....Now where the hell am I gonna find some duck fat?

    October 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
    • AleeD®@RC

      In the Politics threads.

      October 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
      • RC@AleeD®

        Bazinga!

        October 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
    • Weeds

      Asian markets usually carry it. Me, I'm thinking bacon grease would be a good substitute

      October 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
      • RC

        Ah. Good call.

        October 25, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Reply
    • icecoldmilk

      you don't need any lard at all. idk why the recipe calls for it. it crisps up on its own without it.

      May 7, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  24. Truth™

    I'm in love...

    October 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • AleeD®@Turth™ & Jdizz ♫♫

      That recipe could have stopped at the end of step one. Those skins probably have less than 10 calories per serving. *snicker*

      October 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Peanut oil is great. It's what my dad uses when deep frying the Thanksgiving Turkey

      October 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  25. AleeD®

    I'd hit it.

    October 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
    • RichardHead@AleeD

      Of course you would.....I wonder what VEGAN skin would taste like ? A San Francisco Treat.....

      October 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
      • AleeD®@RichHd

        Yeah, well .... ~_~

        October 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Reply
      • AleeD®@RichHd

        Deep fried anything tastes good. Even Vegan skin in duck fat couldn't be that bad. Maybe a little thin and stringy ...

        October 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Reply
        • RC@AD&RH

          Do you know how hard it is to get good locally sourced organic Vegan skin where I live? You'd think I was asking for an arm and a leg. Sigh........

          October 24, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
      • Charlotte

        blah blah blah. Once a fat turd always a fat turd.

        October 27, 2013 at 11:49 am | Reply
        • AleeD®@Charred

          Soooo when you finish up your 4th year of 3rd grade ....

          October 28, 2013 at 6:47 am |
        • RichardHead@Charlotte

          So you finally took a Selfie of yourself in the mirror and realized-" I Can't compete..'cuz I gotz Cellulite ".

          October 28, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  26. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    I can dig it!

    October 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Reply

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