Thursday, July 9, 2009
Give me some skin
It's a little embarrassing to admit this, but there was a time in the early 1980's when I used to pull the skin off of chicken to make stock. I seem to recall thinking that removing the skin would make it easier to degrease which, of course, is true. However, skin is loaded with flavorful molecules and contains a large amount of collagen protein which, when heated in the presence of water, breaks down to gelatin. And as most of you know, it is gelatin that gives chicken stock, or any meat stock its "body" or "heft." So removing the skin is stupid.
Nowadays, I not only leave the skin on when I make stock, but I often add extra skin to bulk it up. At work we ask the farmer who raises, slaughters and butchers our chicken to save the skin which he sends to us in 5 pound bags. I don't use all of the skin he sends in stocks, some I add into poultry sausages when i think the meat is too lean. But I'll be damned if I'll be tossing it out the way I did when I was a wet-behind-the-ears chef wannabe.