Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
Most people know about pork cracklings but have you ever tried cracklings made from chicken? My Grandma Mama made the best tasting chicken pot pies. Even the crust tasted like chicken and had tiny bits of crunchies in it. The taste in the crust came from chicken fat and the crunchies were chicken cracklings.
I haven’t made chicken cracklings in a very long time. I was too busy earning money to think about saving it. Now days, since I’m semi-retired, the opposite is true. I think more about ways to keep from spending money which means I don’t have the stress to earn it.
I’ve been saving the skin from chicken and putting it into a container in the freezer. It’s taken quite a while but I finally have enough to make some chicken cracklings and chicken lard. Chicken skin, bones, and fat have become very hard to find these days. And getting harder every day. Most of the chicken is stripped naked before it appears in the stores. If you are lucky enough to know a butcher maybe you can get some from him/her.
I really wanted cracklings and lard so that’s what I did yesterday. Here is how it’s done. Cut the skin and fat up into smallish pieces. Not too small because they will shrink up quite a bit. Put into a pan on very low heat. You want to slow cook these in order to render as much of the fat out as possible.
The slower you cook these the more lard is released and the skin gets crunchier. Keep cooking until the cracklings turn a really rich, dark color. Stir often to prevent burning.
Continue simmering until there is no more white or yellowish color showing and the skins appear to be crispy. That’s when it’s done and you can remove the cracklings from the lard. I dish mine into a strainer over a small dish to cool. The dish catches any lard that drips off the cracklings.
I could put these into a jar in the fridge. They’re good for a small snack every now and then just as they are or maybe with a little salt sprinkled on. I’ve decided these will be ground up in the food processor and put away to use for flavorings. I ended up with just a little over a cup of cracklings.
I also ended up with a half-pint of chicken lard. Chicken lard gives a great flavor to any dishes instead of regular lard or butter. Biscuits for example. Gravy is another example. Yes, it would have a lot of cholesterol but if you use only a tablespoon in a recipe it’s not that much. A small amount goes a long way for flavor. The taste is far superior to commercial bullion or boxed stock. Besides, studies have shown that lard is actually good for you in small quantities. It’s better for you than hydrogenated vegetable oil which is not a natural oil. That’s an invention of the last 50 or 60 years.
Now here’s the thing. If you are on a very restricted budget due to a down sizing or illness or any other reason for loss of income you will want to save every penny you possibly can. The less money spent on food, the more money available for other things. If you are able to give a second life to throw away items such as chicken fat and skin, your budget is all the better for it.