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.
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15 comments:

Tags said...

If you're ever short on collagen, the folks at Stoltzfus Poultry (in the Ardmore Farmers Market) sell chicken necks and backs for 88-99 cents a pound.

BTW, I love that baseball glove you're wearing in your Facebook mugshot. Are those extra fingers for when you need to make a two-handed catch?

fiat lux said...

Another option is the wing tips. We like making chicken wings for dinner, so we buy them pretty often. The tips get collected and find their way into the next batch of stock. They're a great source of extra collagen and easy to come by too.

Bob del Grosso said...

Tags
I think I know what you are talking about (the FB photo) on the other hand you just might be losing it :-)

Fiatlux
Good advice! Back in the day when wings were not so popular, you could buy them extremely cheaply and add them into stock.

Bob del Grosso said...

tags
Ok, never mind, I get it and you aren't losing it.

Ed Bruske said...

to say nothing of all the good nutrients in the skin. chicken skin is good for you

Ben said...

Chicken skin has collagen? I did not know that. Thanks for the info. I save all my chicken carcasses for stock any time I portion one up, but I've been throwing away any excess skin that doesn't naturally wind up stuck to the carcass (as the back skin does). I'm happy that I'll be creating less waste...My wife will be happy that our garbage will stink less! ;-)

The Bad Yogi said...

I slice the skin into very thin strips and render it and any fat into schmaltz: chicken fat as butter. Plus the crispy strips are better than bacon, if you're keeping kosher, which I'm not, but I love crispy!

BUt I guess I could always put some in the stock... If my family wouldn't kill me.

natalie sztern said...

My mother used to make Greben with the chicken skin...imagine if doctors could learn how to take the collagen of the skin and make a face cream.....ahh the lovelies of collagen.....now i give it to my pup...

Lou said...

I have always used the chicken skin, but I was under the impression (mistakenly?) that collagen was found mostly in connective tissue. We always use the wings and feet for stock.

Bob del Grosso said...

Lou
I think that the reason many people think that it is only connective tissue that contains collagen has to do with the fact that focus of most cooks is on muscle cuts which, of course, contains collagenous connective tissue that must be dealt with appropriately. But skin is loaded with collagen, so to are intestinal, kidney, liver, brain and other membranes.

natalie
I'm sure you know that as we age, the rate of replacement of collagen slows down which is one of the reasons for wrinkles and sagging skin and crap, this is depressing :-)

Lou said...

In my defense (not that I need one), I said "mostly", not "only".

Still, it's useful to know that skin has a lot of collagen. Kidney, liver, and brain are still cuts I avoid. I ate them as a young man, and they bring back bad memories.

ntsc said...

I never thought to remove the skin. We save everything including wing tips and roast carci in the freezer. Every now and then I find backs for $0.49/lb.

This house runs on stock. I've 3 quarts of trout stock, in 1 & 2 cup put ups in the freezer.

Everything is light (white) except the beef which is dark.

dave said...

To clarify, skin (epithelial tissue) lies on top of a layer of connective tissue, which is primarily composed of collagen. While chicken skin proper may contain little collagen, what you get off the bird is of course both the skin and connective tissue.

Gary Allen said...

I've always used the skin in stock -- and excess lumps of fat (it also has collage-containing membranes -- and the rendered fat is easy to remove once the stock is chilled).

I also save carcasses from roasted chickens for stock -- even more flavor!

Barzelay said...

Bob, I was inspired by your post to start making my chicken stock with the skin, and it led to an amazing new (to me) product. I think of it as "browned stock solids"--the particles suspended in stock, concentrated and fried in the fat from the stock. Check it out here.