Over the holidays, I got a bit more time to “play” in the kitchen. And, I’ve discovered several new obsessions that I just have to share! My holiday gift this year was a microwave potato chip maker from the “As Seen on TV Store” – more on that later in the week. Our holiday dinner was a roast duck – the side benefit of roasting a duck is the amazing jar of pristine duck fat you end up with if you do it right – more on that later, too.
Right now I want to share with you my newest obsession – yes, I actually dream about it (and so does Mr. Vino)! CHICKEN BACON.
I don’t know where I first heard/read/saw/learned about Chicken Bacon. But a couple of weeks ago, I was removing the skin from some bone-in Chicken Thighs to make Braised Thighs and Greens (on the blog under main courses). As I was going to throw the skin away, the memory of Chicken Bacon flashed into my head. The Thighs and Greens were delicious (and healthy) and I saved the skin for th next day.
Chicken Bacon is pan-fried or roasted chicken skin. I mean SERIOUSLY roasted. Roasted til it is brown and crispy and all the fat has been rendered off. It is crunchy. It is chickeny. It is bacony. I couldn’t find a calorie count for it anywhere, but since you render off ALL THE FAT, it just can’t be that bad for you. And it’s delicious. Really delicious. So delicious that I think Mr. Vino would eat cardboard if it had chicken bacon on it.
Here’s how it works.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the skin from your chicken thighs (or breast, or go crazy and get a whole chicken nekkid). Chicken skin is slimy, so use paper towels to grab it and pull it off if you are having a hard time. Rinse the chicken skin and pat it dry. Lay the skin out flat on a rimmed baking sheet. Please note, that rim on the baking sheet is VERY IMPORTANT – cuz the fat renders off . . . in liquid form. Meanwhile back to the flat skin – try to get out as many wrinkles as possible. Sprinkle the skin with salt and pepper. Or your favorite seasoned salt. Or MY favorite, a sprinkle of garlic salt. Put the baking sheet in the oven and roast until the skin is brown and crisp – probably about 40 minutes, but check it after 20 minutes. Pull the baking sheet out carefully as there will be some liquid chicken fat sloshing around the bottom. Use a spatula to remove the crispy skin pieces, put them on a paper towel and blot them dry to remove even more fat. After it cools, either eat it immediately or put it in a Ziploc bag in the fridge where it will keep for several days.
OK, so how do you use it??? I use it anywhere I’d use bacon bits. So far: to top a salad, to top a risotto, to make a CBLT (chicken bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich), to top green beans, on a baked potato, eat it straight out of the pan as a salty, crunchy snack (it’s hard not to). The possibilities are endless.
I’ve seen some recipes where the chicken skin is marinated in a sweet salty sauce (like Hoisin) and they call it Chicken Candy. Haven’t tried it yet – am still loving it in its pure bacon form!
Frugal cooking doesn’t mean using the cheapest ingredients – it means using the best ingredients thoughtfully and never wasting anything. As my Grandma Vino used to say: don’t skimp on anything you are putting in your stomach, but don’t waste it either!