You’re either going to love this idea, or it’s going to make you just a teensy bit queasy. My dad, for one, would have loved it; he was convinced that if he could just buy several pounds of chicken skins and deep-fry them, he could become the international king of the “bar snack” industry (he was also convinced that his toasted Filipino garlic peanuts were his key to barroom fame and fortune, but that’s another story for another day). It turns out he was absolutely right. Fried chicken skins, as it happens, are the undiscovered bacon of the chicken world: deep fried and lightly sprinkled with coarse salt, they make a delightful companion to a crisp, ice cold beer, served with a side of defibrillator paddles.
Your method for acquiring chicken skins in bulk is entirely up to you. You can buy whole chickens or breasts, skin-on, and remove the skin yourself. Or you can skip the fuss and talk to a neighborhood butcher or specialty store, who will prepare the skins for you (and sometimes give them to you free of charge). I called ahead to Whole Foods, who I am learning will perform almost any meat-related task, provided you give them 24 hours notice, and twice as much money as you think you ought to. They provided me with a neatly-wrapped brown paper wrapper of chicken skins, with no questions asked.
The chickens who donated their skins to the cause were 100% organic free-range birds from whoopsnobodycares. This was a four ounce bag of white, wiggly loose skin we’re talking about. I don’t know where they came from. These chickens could’ve been born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and been studying abroad on a Genius Grant from a Swiss boarding school; it wasn’t going to stop me from deep frying their skins in oil, sprinkling them with salt, and slathering them with hot sauce.
Finally, an obvious word of caution: Since what you’re eating here is, y’know, deep-fried chicken skins, this probably isn’t terrifically good for you, or something that should be eaten every day. But just this once won’t hurt you.
Crispy Chicken Skin Tacos with Habanero Salsa (Chicharron de Pollo)
Adapted from a recipe found on Simply Recipes
- 4 corn tortillas
- Skin from five or six chicken breasts
- Approx. 2 tablespoons of canola oil, for frying
- Coarse salt, to taste
- 2 habanero chilies (or one jalapeno, if you don’t like a lot of heat), seeded and de-veined
- 4 green onions, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced, sprinkled with apple cider vinegar
- 1 avocado, seeded, peeled, and sliced
- More chopped cilantro, green onion, tomato, and lime, for garnish
Add canola oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Place chicken skins fat-side-down in the pan, and cook slowly until olden brown and crispy, turning often, about 8-10 minutes total. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with coarse salt. While chicken skins cook, pulse habaneros, green onions, cilantro, tomato, and lime juice in a food processor until combined into desired consistency, and set aside. While chicken skins drain on paper towels, drain skillet and wipe with paper towels to remove most of the grease. Warm tortillas in skillet until they just start to brown. To build the tacos, place lettuce, sliced avocado, habanero salsa, more cilantro, tomato, and green onion, and finally the crispy chicken skins on the heated tortillas. Fold and eat.