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Do you use the skin for your chicken stock?

So I've read the numerous threads regarding making stock but I don't think this specific topic has been addressed.

Does the skin add flavor to the stock? Or would it just leave me with more fat to skim off the top later on? And if it DOES add flavor, do you save the skin for later stock making if a recipe requires that you remove the skin?

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  1. I remove as much skin and fat as possible for a stock. I don't think it adds much that meaty bones can't already provide. Soup is a different story.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cacio e pepe

      Well, I'm making the stock for a soup. So you would use the skin in that case? For flavor or so you could eat the skin? Thanks for your response :)

      1. re: seamunky

        What twyst said. No need for the skin in a white chicken stock, and that's what I primarily make. Fat in your stock is not a good thing. In addition, fat in your pot can potentially emulsify with some of the proteins released by the meaty bones. When that happens your stock tastes (and looks) muddy. It should come out just fine, but the risk of a poorer end product is there while there is no benefit to having skin in the stock. I always remove it and any fat deposits from my bones.

        A brown stock is a totally different matter and I agree with twyst.

        When I'm making soup, I generally start with a stock. So if I'm making chicken soup, I'll poach my skin-on chicken in the chicken stock. That will add a little fat to the soup. I actually like a little of that on my soup.

    2. Brown chicken stock I use the skin, white stock I do not. It adds very little to the stock other than fat in a white chicken stock, but when browned for brown stock it does add a lot of flavor and much of the fat renders before going into the stock.

      1 Reply
      1. I used to use it all, then skim. But I've found that if I remove most of the skin and just leave it on the wings and legs, I have the perfect amount of fat in my finished stock.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcf

          This, exactly. I now remove skin.

        2. i use backs, heads and feet for stock or broth, so not much skin to remove.

          if you're just going to skim the fat anyway, you can bake or fry the skin for crispy treats.

            1. It's a common saying in cooking: "fat is flavor". How much it adds in stock, I don't know, but I put every bit of skin into the pot. Afterward I save it to add to pet food a little at a time. I skim the congealed fat from the top of the cooled stock or soup and use that as one would schmaltz. I do not care about clarity - an opaque stock is fine by me; flavor is what counts.

              2 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                This is exactly what I do, greygarious...skim it for pets and schmaltz. I think the fat does add flavor. When I make a lighter, clearer Asian inspired stock- I leave it out, but then I add lemongrass and other things. For regular stock for soups and cooking, mine is cloudy and full chickeny flavor.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I use it for schmaltz too. it strained and saved in the freezer for my matzah balls and potato kugel. Yum!

                2. if I'm using fresh chicken, I pull most of the skin off (whatever comes off quickly and easily).

                  If I'm using roasted chicken, I use the skin - color and flavor.

                  1. I never remove fat or skin when I make stock. As far as I'm concerned, I get two valuable products: rendered chicken fat and stock. I store them separately in the freezer, and I use the chicken fat for roasting vegetables and instead of oil in curries. Makes a wonderful flavor!

                    Especially if I'm paying a premium for organic or pastured chicken, I don't want to throw out that lovely fat, and then turn around and pay another premium for organic butter and oil. Not that butter and oil don't have their uses, but chicken fat is just fine in many applications.

                    I did have a problem with the fat emulsifying once-- but I was trying to reduce the volume of the stock before I skimmed it, so it was boiling violently. As long as I keep the stock at a simmer before I skim the fat off,I don't have a problem with it clouding up.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tartinet

                      I do the same and find that pretty much all of the fat rises to the top.

                      Once it solidifies in the fridge, I can very easily remove the fat layer to use for other purposes and am left with clear stock. And then depending on the application, like making pho ga for instance, I might add some of the fat back in.

                    2. I do use the skin---I think I read somewhere that it adds to the gelatin. I use the pressure cooker, and all the meat/bones/skin/veggies go to the dogs. (Pressure cooking makes chicken bones soft and crumbly.)

                      1. The skin on a roasted chicken adds a LOT of flavor to the stock IMHO. Also, I really like having the schmaltz to make chopped liver or matzo ball soup.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Dcfoodblog

                          But the flavor in roasted chicken skin is usually salt (and other spices) that have been added before the bird was roasted, no?

                          And I don't want my stock to taste like "roasted chicken".

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            It won't taste like roasted chicken -- but there's definitely a deeper color and deeper flavor.

                            I only ever roast chickens with salt and pepper and a little olive oil -- so I only have to taste the stock and adjust as needed (usually the comparatively scanty amount of S&P isn't enough to change the seasoning in a big pot of stock, anyway...it's next to nothing by the time you've added the vegetables and water and non-skin bits of chicken.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              The thing is, when you roast a chicken, the skin takes on its own unique flavor due to the high heat from the roasting.

                              I don't want that flavor in my stock.

                              Think about it this way, boiled chicken skin and roasted chicken skin taste very different -- even when both are done au natural.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                but we like that flavor, so in it goes.

                                Try a small batch -- it has a great flavor, but not a flavor that makes you say "Oh, this is roasted chicken"

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              The only spice I put in my roast chicken is pepper. I don't think it tastes like roasted chicken. It definitely has a "deeper" flavor than regular chicken stock but I like that.

                            3. re: Dcfoodblog

                              I totally agree with you. When you make brown chicken stock you should roast the meaty bones with the skin on and leave that skin on throughout the simmering. And I also agree that it adds a lot of depth to the flavor and deepens the color dramatically. However, that strong flavor is not what I usually want. Personally, a risotto alla milanese that is too chickeny is not what I'm looking for. And a matzo ball soup with a roasted chicken stock just wouldn't be right. In other words, for normal, everyday chicken stock uses, I prefer a white stock.

                              As for schmaltz, I love the stuff. But there is no rule that you can't render the schmaltz in a separate pot while the stock is simmering.

                              A clear stock can be just as flavorful as a cloudy one. For me, cloudy stocks often have a taste to them that I don't care for. A muddiness in the flavor. Not every time, but it's often enough to notice a correlation and so I take simple steps to avoid a cloudy stock. Limit the fat and keep the water at a bare simmer.

                              To each his own, though.

                            4. in my experience, skin doesnt have much effect unless it is from a roasted chicken. when i make stock from an entire raw chicken, i havent noticed a difference between skin and no skin. but one time i used the skin on a roasted chicken, it came out very very dark as compared to skin less roasted chicken/carcass. i cant say for certain that the reason was the skin, because maybe it was something else that i didnt realize i did differently. the darker stock still tasted excellent. but it wouldnt of looked very good in a dish that needs a nice light/golden colored stock. made a nice gravy for fried pork cutlets though.

                              1. Yes, I use the skin and if I am boning chicken legs for a recipe just calling for the meat, I make a stock with the bones and the skin. I find the skin adds a lot of flavour, and the fat is easily skimmed off the chilled stock. I don't usually care if my stock is a bit cloudy.

                                But isn't chicken fat, even rendered, a very unhealthy fat? I tend to simply discard the skimmed fat (unlike duck fat, of course).

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: lagatta

                                  it's not as bad as four-legged animal fat. It has some oleic acid in it (the same stuff that acually helps dissolve arterial deposits) -- although not as high as the levels found in ducks and geese.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      There's nothing unhealthy about four legged animal fat, either. Unless it's from feedlot polluted critters.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        I didn't say it was unhealthy-- I said it was less healthy than fat from poultry, which has higher levels of oleic acid.

                                        And it's all good in moderation.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          I don't see any difference in health... Conditions and feeding determine that, but red meat raised right is as healthy as you can get. Unfortunately, not as easy to find.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            i have much easier (and cheaper) access to pastured 4-legged critters than i do chickens. one of the reasons i've basically given up on eating those birds at all.

                                  1. Absolutely, the skin adds flavour. As well I add onion with skin left on, it gives the stock a lovely golden colour. The fat can be removed from the top of the soup once cooled.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                      I do the brown onion skin, too! It absolutely adds a lovely color.

                                    2. I'm kind of intrigued by the following line of argument:

                                      Fat adds flavor. Besides, it all rises to the top and I skim it all off.

                                      Am I the only one who sees a disconnect here?

                                      As I've said, roasted chicken skin is a different story. Maillard reactions create new (and totally delicious) compounds that will move into solution. But unrendered, untreated chicken fat? Call me a skeptic.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                        David Lebovitz (pastry chef/author/blogger) said that if you believe that fat in and of itself adds flavor, stick a big spoonful of Crisco in your mouth and see how much flavor is there. (I know; blergh)

                                        While I'm not sure I buy off completely...I tend to lean that direction.

                                        Andy yes -- goose fat and duck fat most assuredly DO make things very tasty...but I don't know how much of it comes from *just* fat, or all the other compounds that end up alongside the fat in the jar.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          LOL. If Dave Lebovitz can't taste the difference between Crisco and chicken fat, maybe we're all giving him too much credit. :P

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            I agree, to an extent.

                                            Fat is an incredible vehicle for flavor. So is water. Tasty flavor components are found in both media. In other words, if there is not enough fat to carry some of the delicious compounds in the food, you won't taste them.

                                            To defend Lebovitz a bit . . . taste the difference between home rendered lard and the commercial stuff you can find at supermarkets. The home rendered stuff is rich in flavor and is not pure white. The commercial stuff has none of that and tastes like . . . well . . . crisco.

                                            I also tend to agree that what flavors the "fat" owes no small part to other compounds that are in the adipose tissue that's being rendered. Those other compounds are fat soluble and take a ride with the lipids being released during the rendering process. They aren't water soluble, so they won't be present in significant quantities in a dish without that fat.

                                            Which brings us to the idea of chicken skin and it's fat in a *white* chicken stock. The vast majority of any compounds present in the fat that would be tasty are most likely fat soluble. So, they rise to the top and you skim them off. How is that improving the flavor of the stock if they are removed? I don't see it.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              Lebovitz is right.

                                              Fat does not add flavor.

                                              Fat provides texture, which affects mouthfeel, which makes food taste different (or better).

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                and carries fat-soluble flavor compounds...

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Yes, that's how I understand it, too.

                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                The skin on a chicken that's been roasted has had the fat rendered out already.
                                                The skin on a chicken that is raw when placed in to the stockpot has not had the fat rendered out already.

                                                I am not a believer in the concept that the fat that has not been previously rendered will impart any noticeable flavor to the stock. It does have some collagen that will be converted to gelatin during the simmering, but I get all the gelatin I want and more from the backs, necks, and feet. But that's got nothing to do with flavor, only texture and body.

                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                  But the fat in the uncooked chicken skin becomes rendered as the stock simmers, and then behaves as rendered fat as the stock continues to simmer, does it not?

                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                    Errrr, yeah. It is rendered out in the process of making the stock. My position is that if one is rendering the fat via simmering for stock, you are simply releasing the fat in to the solution. That fat will then rise to the top. When cooled, it will solidify. When solidified, if is lifted out of the stock. What part of that fat is remaining in the stock? Ideally, none. So, how then, is the flavor of the stock improved? I don't see it. Do you?

                                                    In the other instance, the fat is in fact rendered prior to being inserted in the stockpot. Really, much of the fat is gone. In that case, the skin does impart a significant amount of flavor.

                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                      Unscientifically speaking, I personally do detect a difference in flavor between stock that's made with uncooked skin, which renders fat into simmering stock, and stock made without it.

                                                      My guess is that it has something to do with the fat cells mingling in somewhat high heat during the simmer with the collagen and whatever other compounds or structures are released from the chicken when the liquid is constantly moving and comes in contact with the fat that swims at the top, thereby somehow affecting the structure and flavor of those elements.

                                                      But I understand why reasonable people might subscribe to other theories... :)

                                            2. To be honest, I can't tell the difference, but I generally leave the skin on. However, if I want crackling, I fry up the skin.

                                              1. Hmmmm....thanks for your responses everyone. In the past I would make stock with skin and then skim the fat off after chilling. This last time, I trimmed before hand because I was using the stock while still hot. I would do a side by side but I don't really follow a recipe for stock. I guess I'll just continue with whichever way is more convenient for the time being.

                                                1. Hi, I was brought up with mum's delicious Friday night chicken soup (it's special to us Jews!), so I watched and learned. As someone said, cook it whole for some hours, cool down, leave in fridge overnight and next morning, you'll have a thick layer of solidified white fat sitting on the top ready to skim. It looks like marzipan and anyone who thinks that's not bad for your health, good luck - it is pure saturated fat! The gelified stock underneath is tasty enough without it. Whoever said "the flavor is all that counts" is way off the mark. I'm in Thailand now, been eating delicious chicken soup from the street vendor for ages. Thais never rinse starch from their rice or fat from their chicken - and a simple blood test last week shows my Triglyceride (saturated fat) levels have soared since I've been here. Now stopped eating it, sadly.

                                                  1. I always use everything.....skin/crushed bones. I NEVER boil the stock. That way I get a clear stock. After skimming/reducing I let the stock cool then into the fridge over night. Next day I carefully remove whatever has solidified. This I save separately for use in sauteing eggs/potatoes etc. I think the fat does add some flavor to the stock this way.