I don't like wasting food, not even foods that other people might think to throw away. I've gained a reputation on the bloggosphere and also among my friends for being a person who uses food scraps to make yummy dishes. Which is why it was nice, but not a completely huge surprise, when my neighbor called me up yesterday and said "Hey Penny, you use chicken skin, right?" "Yea, why?" "Well, I have a whole bunch of chicken skin that I took off my chicken, and before I threw it out, I wanted to first see if you wanted it." "Absolutely", I said, knowing that chicken skins are a good source of nutrition, including protein, iron, and healthy fats. (P.S. I know many say animal fats are not healthy. I'm not in that school of thought and prefer animal fats and other naturally saturated fats to unsaturated fat.)
Her daughter showed up at my door with a huge mound of chicken skins. Immediately I knew that they were going to be supper.
I tried to think of what I could do with those chicken skins. The first thing that comes to mind is rendered chicken fat and cracklings, but I wasn't really in the mood to do that. I wanted the chicken skins as a dish to eat. I considered chopping them up and putting them in a stir fry, but didn't think I'd like the texture, as I prefer crispy chicken skins.
I had this idea that stuffing chicken skins might work, and googled the concept to try to find out if there were similar recipes on the internet, but didn't strike gold. Other than some whole chicken's skins that were stuffed with some stuff and sewn together. But other than that, google kept on sending me to "chicken stuffed below the skin" which was NOT what I was after.
So I knew I'd have to make up this recipe myself.
I cooked some rice, 1 cup of rice with 1 1/2 cups of water, uncovered on the stovetop, stirring occasionally, so that the rice would be partially cooked, but still somewhat hard. I knew that if I used raw rice to stuff it, it likely would come out with hard rice, but I didn't want overly mushy rice. I figured partially cooked was the best.
I mixed that with a chopped onion, a chopped fennel bulb, one large bunch of wood sorrel, and a bit of salt.
I took the chicken skins and lay them down, one at a time, on a plate, filled them with a little scoop of the filling, and folded the edges over so that the filling was contained (usually I only needed to fold over three sides, so it became triangle like shaped), and flipped it over, seam side down, onto a baking sheet.
I then baked them at 375 for about an hour or so, until they were a crisp golden brown. The bottom of the tray was filled with a large amount of rendered chicken fat!
I scooped out the stuffed chicken skin, placed them in another container, and then poured the rendered chicken fat into another container for use later in cooking.
These stuffed chicken skins were a big hit- absolutely amazing! Crispy, crackly skin on the outside, deliciously flavorful filling on the inside. Perfectly textured rice and veggies. Perfect flavor all around.
If you don't have wood sorrel, you can make the same recipe as I did just with a bit of lemon instead of the wood sorrel. If you don't have the fennel, you can probably just leave it out.
This recipe really is more of a guide to an idea than an actual recipe. You really can fill those chicken skins with whatever you want, a mix of grains or veggies or protein. I'm sure it'll come out terrific! I just don't recommend a really wet filling, like whole tomatoes, or it's possible the skin will rip and won't come out crispy.
Do you eat chicken skins? What would you do if you were given a huge amount of chicken skins?
Does this look like a recipe or concept you'd try?