I always buy chicken with the bones and the skin — first, because it’s more cost effective, and second, because the bones and skin impart so much flavor and moisture as the chicken cooks. I like Mary’s air-chilled chicken, available at Whole Foods and other better markets and butcher shops, and it does make a difference: The flavor and texture are far superior to factory-farmed or frozen chicken parts. I save the bones in a large freezer bag, and when I get enough I make a big batch of homemade stock. But what can you do with the skin? Crisp it up in the oven to make chicken chicharrones, similar to fried pork rinds (chicharrones), but a lot better for you.
Chicken chicharrones are great for “CLTs” — a BLT that substitutes crispy chicken skin for bacon, something my Jewish boyfriend’s mother did with “gribenes,” the crisp chicken cracklings that remained after she made schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) for her famous chopped liver. They also make great dog or cat treats. When they’re on sale, I sometimes buy 10 to 12 chicken thighs (I prefer thigh meat to breast meat because it’s juicier and has more flavor); I remove the skin and store the thighs in the freezer for future use.
To make chicken chicharrones, lay the skin flat on a rack over a large baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, finely minced fresh or dried rosemary and garlic powder, and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until golden and crispy. Let them cool completely, and then stack them in a zipper storage bag and store in a cool, dry place. Break off small pieces for smaller dogs and cats, or to use as training treats, or give an entire skin as a special treat to a larger dog. Skylar goes crazy over chicken chicharrones, and I’m sure your dogs and cats will, too.