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.
1 lb. raw chicken skins
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.
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
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