I don’t think many people are going to fall to the middle, on this recipe. You’re either going to love the idea of eating tacos stuffed with fried chicken skins, or it’s going to make you just a teensy bit queasy. Fried chicken skins are the largely undiscovered bacon of the chicken world: deep fried and lightly sprinkled with coarse or flaky salt, they make a delightful companion to a crisp, ice cold beer, served with a side of defibrillator paddles.
Acquiring chicken skins in bulk is entirely up to you. You can buy whole chickens, breasts, or thighs skin-on, and remove the skin yourself. Or you can skip the fuss and talk to a neighborhood butcher or specialty store, who will prepare the skins for you (and sometimes give them to you free of charge, since many butchers consider the skins a “waste product”).
Because I am super bougie, I called ahead to Whole Foods, who I am learning will perform almost any meat-related task, provided you give them 24 hours notice, and twice as much money as you think you ought to. They provided me with a neatly-wrapped brown paper wrapper of chicken skins, with no questions asked. I think they charged me about a dollar. If you don’t shop at Whole Foods, because you’ve never quite developed a taste for $6 mangoes, your local butcher can probably hook you up as well.
The chickens who donated their skins to the cause were 100% organic free-range birds from haha just kidding. I have no idea. This was a four ounce bag of white, wiggly loose skin we’re talking about. I don’t know where they came from. These chickens could’ve been born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and been studying abroad on a Genius Grant from a Swiss boarding school; it wasn’t going to stop me from deep frying their skins in oil, sprinkling them with salt, and slathering them with hot sauce.
Finally, an obvious word of caution that should go without saying but that I’m going to say anyway: Since what you’re eating here is, y’know, deep-fried chicken skins, this probably isn’t terrifically good for you, or something that should be eaten every day. But just this once won’t hurt you. Probably?
- Skin from five or six chicken breasts, one whole chicken, or ten chicken thighs
- Approx. 2 tablespoons of canola oil, for frying
- Coarse salt, to taste
- 2 habanero chilies (or one jalapeno, if you don’t like a lot of heat), seeded and de-veined
- 4 green onions, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced, sprinkled with apple cider vinegar
- 1 avocado, seeded, peeled, and sliced
- More chopped cilantro, green onion, tomato, and lime, for garnish
- Add canola oil to a medium skillet, and heat over medium heat. Place chicken skins fat-side-down in the pan, and cook slowly until golden brown and crispy, turning often, about 8-10 minutes total. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- While chicken skins cook, pulse habaneros, green onions, cilantro, tomato, and lime juice in a food processor until combined into desired consistency, and set aside.
- While chicken skins drain on paper towels, drain skillet and wipe with paper towels to remove most of the grease. Warm tortillas in skillet until they just start to brown. To build the tacos, place lettuce, sliced avocado, habanero salsa, more cilantro, tomato, and green onion, and finally the crispy chicken skins on the heated tortillas. Fold and eat.