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Photo: Claire Lower

Devouring salty, crackling poultry skin is one of my favorite things about eating birds but, once cooled, it can go from transcendentally crisp to upsettingly gummy in a matter of minutes. Depending on the size of your bird, trying to eat all the skin before it cools can come off as a little creepy, but you don’t have to do this. Leftover poultry skin can be restored to its former glory with just a few minutes in the air fryer.

As I’ve mentioned previously, these skins are often even better the second time around:

Fried skin of any kind is delicious, but the fried skin of an already cooked chicken is something special. It has already been cooked once, so much of the fat has been rendered and the collagen melted, so it crisps up easily and quickly. It’s also usually already seasoned, and those seasonings will become concentrated as the skin fries, shrinking into a perfect chicken chip. Even grey, flabby skin from the bottom of the bird transforms into something golden and crunchy in mere minutes.

You can pan leftover fry skin to make a chicken (or turkey) chip, but I’ve recently taken to tossing all my leftover poultry skins into the air fryer, which crisps them up evenly and quickly, without any greasy splatters.

The procedure is simple. Peel any leftover skin off of your cooked fowl, taking care not to neglect the blobby, unappealing looking skin on the bottom of the bird carcass. Lay it flat on the insert in your air fryer basket, then cook at 350℉ until it is browned and crispy, which can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on how rendered the skin was to begin with, and how big of a piece you’re dealing with. (Open the basket every once in a while to check your progress.)

You can also crisp up completely uncooked poultry skin this way, if you wish. The process is the same; it will just take a little longer. It will also result in a lot more rendered fat, which you should save and treasure (and use to cook potatoes).

Once your skin has shrunk down into a deeply browned, savory crisp, season it with salt, let it cool, and eat it like a chip. You can also crumble it over salads or slide it into sandwiches, especially any leftover turkey sandwiches you may be enjoying the day after Christmas.

   



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