Why You Should Think Twice Before Throwing Away Poultry Scraps

Poultry scraps, those little bits of meat, skin, and fat left on your cutting board, may not seem like valuable ingredients, but for those in the know, they contain a world of flavor. If you've spent any time perusing cooking advice online, you've probably been told to save bones and meat for making stock, so you know the potential leftover chicken has. Whether it's cold as a salad topping, or shredded for tacos, Kitchn notes that even a small amount of chicken meat can be stretched to add a pop of tasty protein to a meal. In fact, your leftover chicken salad can often end up being better than the original meal it came from.

Sometimes, however, the usefulness of your leftovers isn't as obvious, even if you know all those tricks. You aren't always left with enough meat to make a pot pie, just some tough, boney ends and rubbery odds that seem destined for the trash can. Of course inventive people have been making every use of those scraps for thousands of years, and if you've ever eaten a crispy chicken skin crackling, you know they are onto something. 

Chicken skin and other scraps contain one of the most flavorful and indulgent ingredients you can have in your kitchen, and even just a little of it can transform a dish. You just have to know how to make it.

Render out chicken fat for a delicious treat

Butter, olive oil, lard ... These cooking fats are all great, but none of them are schmaltz. According to AllRecipes, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat and is a commonly used substitute for butter in Jewish cooking because excluding dairy can help keep dishes kosher. Kosher or not, you should also know that it is a deeply-flavored and sumptuous fat, which marries the richness of butter with the savory satisfaction of chicken. While classic Jewish dishes like matzo balls and latkes are great uses for schmaltz, Epicurious notes that it can be used as a flavor booster in everything from cornbread to mayo, and even spread over toast as a meaty butter alternative.

The best part is you don't need a ton of chicken scraps to make it. Lifehacker states that schmaltz is an easy project that requires nothing but chicken skin and fat. If you want enough schmaltz to store, you may need a decent amount of skin, but even a little schmaltz is worth making. All you need to do is toss cut-up pieces of chicken skin and your leftover fatty bits in a pan over low heat. Forty-five minutes and a few stirs later, you should be left with some golden, liquid fat and crispy skin. Strain the fat into a jar and get ready to enjoy some of the best potatoes — or roasted vegetables — of your life.