Do you remove skins off chicken to cut down on fat? Well, hello, I have a recipe for you~chicken skin chicharon. I know, I know. It defeats all that trouble of trimming skins from your chicken only to consume all that heart-clogging grease in one sitting. But as my favorite humorist, Erma Bombeck, said:
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
Chicken skin is one of the many kinds of chicharon in Philippine cuisine. Although chicharon can be made with various ingredients such as pork rind, intestines (isaw) and omemtum (bulaklak), the methods of preparation are basically the same. Here are my tips for successful chicken skin chicharon.
- Boil the meat. This is to tenderize the skin, render fat as well as impart desired flavors. I like to use a simple solution of vinegar, pepper corns, garlic and salt.
- Dehydrate the meat. In olden times, the meat is laid out under the sun to draw out excess moisture. It’s a proven technique but not exactly doable (unhygienic for one thing) in my current part of the world. As I’d rather not have the FDA stomping on my grounds, I use my oven. When I made lechon sa hurno a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what culinary magic caused the crispiest rind I ever enjoyed on a lechon. I realize now the “low and slow” cooking of the meat in the oven “dehydrated” the rind and resulted to the coveted puffing and blistering when I increased the heat to high. As an alternative, you arrange the skin in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to dry out.
- Deep-fry in batches to keep cooking temperatures level. Overcrowding the pan will cause the temperature to drop too low and result to less crispier chicharon.
- Use the right kind of oil. Not all oils are created equal and some have higher smoke points than others. I don’t normally use lard in my cooking (you know, not “healthy” and all) but I am frying chicharon so what’s the point? But if you must insist, peanut oil is perfect for deep-frying, too.
That’s it, folks. Let’s get started, shall we?
- 3 pounds chicken skin
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pounded
- ½ teaspoon pepper corns, cracked
- 1 teaspoon salt
- lard or peanut oil
- In a pot over medium heat, combine chicken skin, vinegar, water, garlic, pepper corns and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue to cook until skins render fat and are softened but not falling apart. With a slotted spoon, remove the skin from the pot. Remove any stray peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves and discard. Arrange skins in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until completely cold. Using a spoon, gently scrape away any subcutaneous fat. Cut into about 4-inch pieces.
- In a 180 F oven, bake skins for about 2 to 3 hours or until dry with just a bit of flexibility.
- Alternatively, arrange chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to dry out.
- In a deep, heavy bottomed pot, heat about 4-inches deep of lard or peanut oil until very hot. Add chicken skins in batches and deep-fry until they begin to puff and start to float. With a slotted spoon, remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve with spiced vinegar.