turkey on farm at sunset

Turkey Skin

Enjoying All Of The Bird

Iron Chef Michael Symon is known to say turkey and bacon are two words that should never go together.

He must mean traditional “turkey bacon”, the one that is made from reconstituted turkey pieces. There is no doubt that is a poor substitute for traditional pork bacon.

But, there is another often overlooked bacony food that is made from a turkey - which many eaters claim is their favorite part of the bird. This is the crispy turkey skin.

frying turkey skin

Unfortunately, there isn’t much skin on a turkey. Each slice of breast meat has just a thin strip around the edge. The paucity of this delicacy has actually driven some people to sneek into the kitchen before the turkey is even carved just to snarf some of the crispy parts.

A problem, especially with brined turkey is that some of the skin might not be as crisp as we would like it to be. Since the skin has the important job of keeping the turkey meat from drying out during cooking, it has to be cooked on the bird. But, the skin itself can be improved after it serves this function.

If the skin is removed after the turkey has finished resting, it can be “rendered” of fat and fluids it contains by frying it fat side down in a skillet, similar to gribenes aka grieven or cracklins.

Now, here is one of our special tips. We have suggested that you get to know a good butcher, did you ever think to ask him to sell you turkey skin? Many butchers occasionally have turkey skin available or can get it for you. All you have to do is salt and pepper it, spread it on a baking sheet, and put it in a 350 F. oven until it becomes crispy. If you can’t get turkey skin, duck or chicken skin works almost as well.

What do you do with it?

Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Bakers Apprentice, uses it as a topping sprinkled over his incredible cornbread.

Put a little on each diners plate as an extra treat during a turkey feast. If someone doesn’t appreciate it, another guest will likely step up for seconds.

Or just think of it as a bacon substitute, use it anywhere you would use bacon for example in salads, or with eggs.

And, what about sandwiches? This could be used for everything from a turkey skin, lettuce, and tomato sandwich – to the ultimate Hot Brown.

It also works similar to duck skin so can be used in a wonderful leftover turkey  recipe  "Peking Turkey."

cooked turkey skin


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