Friday, February 6, 2015

Three in One

[from top to bottom]

I'm back at it with chicken skins. This time digging deeper and exploring how much can be extracted from this thin, floppy and eventually magical layer of poultry. (It is THE reason we like fried chicken, right?) One beautiful aspect of cooking chicken skin is the byproduct it yields. After all the prep and cooking is done, I'm left with three ingredients: gribenes, schmaltz and chicharrón. The first two ingredients are lifted from the Jewish lexicon and is a breakdown of the German word griebenschmalz, which loosely translates to lard or crackling fat. Gribenes are the crisp nuggets of skin that are left over from rendering the skin fat (schmaltz) and are usually fried with onions, flavoring the schmaltz and gribenes all at once. The chicharrón, in this case, is really just a crisp brittle skin. When you remove the fat and keep it flat while cooking, you're left with what can best be described as a chicken chip.

The prep & cooking:

After scraping the excess fat from the underside of the skin, I sandwich the skin between two sheet pans and drop it into a 275F oven for about 1 to 1.5 hours or until crispy. While the skin is in the oven I heat the scraped fat in a small pan over low heat. As the fat renders the left over proteins (essentially more skin) start to brown in their own fat. These are the gribenes. Once they are golden and all of the fat (schmaltz) has been rendered, they are ready. 

One ingredient producing three results.