Chicken Cracklings Recipe

Chicken Cracklings Recipe

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    At a glance, anyone spotting me walking down the street (and they’d have to be blind not to see me) would think to himself, “Now there goes a man who doesn’t care what he puts into his body,” and he’d be right. Considering the state of my city, my state, my country and the planet as a whole, I’ll take my little pleasures wherever I can find them, and food is one of the few that I can afford, so I’m not about to give up the tasty treats that I love, like chicken skin cracklings.

    Anyone with four pickup trucks parked in their yard—each one missing all four wheels and held aloft with cinderblocks—knows the simple joy of chowing down bag after crispy bag of pork rinds. I’ve been known to enjoy a bag on occasion myself, though I usually prefer the Filipino version called chicharon. However, pork rinds are bland when compared to chicken cracklings. And when frying up chicken skins, the most important factor is what substance you choose for frying. Just about any oil will work fine as long as you cook the skins long enough; but as far as I’m concerned, you just can’t beat the taste when you fry them in Kaola Gold vegetable shortening, which infuses fried foods with a wonderful if artificial buttery flavor. The problem is that Kaola Gold is very hard to find. So far, the only places I’ve found that distribute it retail are a few specialty websites that cater to caterers and restaurants; and the stuff ain’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny.

    For the sake of simplicity, you can replace a couple items in my recipe with things you’re more likely to have around the house. For instance, instead of the Presto Multi-Cooker (which, if you don’t have one, you really should consider buying because of its versatility, its reliability and the fact that everything I cook in it just tastes better) you can substitute a saucepan or a skillet with high sides, and you can replace the Kaola Gold with whatever cooking oil you have on hand by adding about two inches of it to whatever cheap, crappy pan or skillet you use in place of the fabulous Presto Multi-Cooker and set your stove’s burner for medium high… schmucks.

    For this, you will need:

    • Presto Multi-Cooker with fryer basket (just buy one already and I’ll stop bugging you about it)
    • Half a one-gallon can of Kaola Gold vegetable shortening
    • Chicken skins, washed and drained (remove large globs of fat before cooking)
    • Wooden spoon with long handle
    • Plate or bowl lined with paper towels
    • Salt to taste

    The procedure:

    1. Pour half a can of Kaola Gold into the Multi-Cooker and turn the heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to preheat (the red light will go off when the temperature is achieved).
    2. Lower the basket into the shortening (if you lower the basket with the chicken skins already inside it, you won’t be able to pry the skins loose with anything less than the Jaws-of-Life).
    3. Carefully place the chicken skins into the hot shortening one piece at a time; if they spatter (and they will—big time—if they’re wet), back off until the spattering stops. Only cook between four and six pieces at a time (depending on their size); do not crowd; allow enough space so they can float on the surface without touching (they’ll stick together if they touch early in the frying).
    4. Initially, the pieces will sink to the bottom. After they stop spattering, raise the basket and use the spoon to pry them off the basket (they will stick to it).
    5. Before long, the pieces will rise to the top. Separate them; don’t let them overlap one another. Turn the pieces every couple of minutes.
    6. When the bubbling settles down to nothing, they are done (if you leave them in longer, they won’t burn… unless you’re using a cheap, crappy frying pan filled with second rate cooking oil; when will people listen to me?). Lift the basket and hook it to the interior side of the Multi-Cooker to drain the shortening. While draining, sprinkle lightly with salt.
    7. Once they’re finished draining, dump the pieces onto the plate lined with paper towels and give them another light sprinkle of salt, if, like me, you don’t give a crap about your blood pressure or you’re already on strong drugs that control it despite how much you abuse yourself.
    8. Repeat the process as needed until all the cracklings are cooked and then crack open a good beer and enjoy them, preferably in front of the TV while a ballgame is on. You can’t get more American Redneck than that.

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