Q: Grinding Chicken Skin & How to Juice Things Up

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jan 11, 2023
Ban Ko Kaeo, Thailand
Beginner, so pardon if this has been discussed. I could not find on my search here.

This is only my second batch. First batch was dry and crumbly. (There were other issues, but keeping is simple here.) Fat was 15 - 20%, but I forgot to add water, and I blamed dryness on that. That is, until the second batch had the same issue.

For whatever reason, the pork merchant had trimmed all the fat from the shoulders, and I was having issues finding pork fat this time. Then, I noticed someone had chicken skins in the local market (they flour & fry strips of skin to make street snacks, here. Very tasty.) Skins looked to be about 10 - 15% meat, so I took a gamble.

I used 500g of skins, and 1000g of the lean(ish) shoulder, 14g binder (soy protein isolate), 140g water, and of course, the salt & spices....

Problem #1 - Despite being 'near' freezing, the skins would clog the grinder plate, and wrap around the blades. Twice during the grind I had to stop and clear a mess the size of a golf ball.
(no idea how it gets 'under' the blades. I suspect the blades are not pressed firmly enough to the plates. To that I have purchased a nylon gasket to help the retaining ring to hold more firmly against the plate. Hopefully, pressing against the blade better. If that doesn't work then I wonder if the auger is a bit short. Possibly a nylon spacer between the blade and the auger?)
(In future, I will chop skins, & lay out on parchment paper/cookie sheet and 'freeze solid'. Then feed bits at a time to the grinder. If the bits are small enough it shouldn't hurt, but goodness at the time consumed...)

Other than these two corrections can anyone offer advice on this skin grinding issue?

Problem #2 - Despite 'not' forgetting to add the water to this grind, the sausage was still dry. Not as crumbly, but still dry. (Some improvement, at least.)
I didn't notice any excess rendering during smoking. Not more than a few drops, at most. Is chicken skin not very fatty ? I had assumed it would be a suitable replacement for pork fat back.

Flavor - Wife and I enjoyed the flavor of the pork/chicken skin blend and we will try again. I'm working on the spice recipe (which we do not care for overmuch), and despite being dry, the meat flavors were excellent. Chicken Skin seemed, in my opinion, to add an umami quality that was not in the first batch.

Do I need to up the chicken skin ratio, or is there a better way to juice this up?

Someone on another thread has suggested that the dryness I'm seeing might be caused by 'smeared' fat.

As a beginner, I'm only aware of bringing the meat and fats to 'near' freezing (which I thought I did) in order to prevent this. I was under the impression that a hard freeze would be bad for the machine.

If anyone has other suggestions on how to prevent smearing, please let me know here. I will be also be looking elsewhere, but I am at a loss.

Hard to say what you have going on since you're in a different country . Not sure how the cut of meat matches up to ours .

I don't add chicken skin to pork , but when I make all chicken sausage I chunk up chicken thighs and grind the skin and meat all together .
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In Germany they use veal skin and add it to sausage. They poach the skin first, then run it through the grinder.
You could try putting your grinder parts in the freezer for an hour before grinding getting everything good and cold.
You could try putting your grinder parts in the freezer for an hour before grinding getting everything good and cold.
Too cold and the meat will stick. Sort of like that little boy in a Christmas story who got his tongue stuck to the pole. I just chuck the grinder head in the fridge an hour or so before I grind.
My point was don't try to grind the skin by itself . Kind of sounds like he was . Maybe I'm wrong .
Didn't try to grind skin only.
I did a cube of pork meat, a little skin, meat, skin, etc.
Clear the grinder cause it got clogged with the skin wrapped round the blades.
meat, skin, meat, skin.
meat, skin, etc.

I had the same issue with my first attempt with meat/pork fat, but less so. Didn't chill that batch. Learned my lesson and began near freezing afterwards.

All parts were cold enough to have my fingers stick to them during assembly.
They are aluminum, and don't hold the cold for long, however.

All meat/skin was cold as well, but not frozen solid. (Next attempt will be totally frozen.)

I'd heard that crushed ice will help keep grind chilled and help clear the plate/blade. I don't have access to crushed ice. Can anyone tell me if small cubes will work? Thinking of filling an ice tray with 1/8" of water and dropping them in a little at a time. Comments?

I'm also wondering if the blades are not pressing against the plate as firmly as it should. (when I say the skin was wrapped around the blades, I mean exactly that. Around, and round, the cutting edge, front, back, around...)
I've purchased a nylon spacer so that the nut will press more firmly against the plate.
Put a small tap hammer in my grinding kit so I can better tighten/loosen the nut (weak hands)
Paying special attention to ensure the plate countersink is clear of debris.

If the issue is the auger being a hair too short, I don't know how to correct.

If anyone has other suggestions, please let me know.

I picked up another batch of skin today.
I will prep and freeze (with pics) tomorrow.
Next (3rd) attempt at grind will be early next week. :emoji_fingers_crossed:

I am now aware others did it before me but when I started playing with chicken sausage and using the skin I did not. I thought it would be a disaster but was surprised how well it worked. Didn't do anything special. Par freeze is all. Same as chopsaw chopsaw deboned thighs and skin and is PERFECT.

I suggest taking some pics and maybe we can see something. My guess is a dull blade or lack of flatness of it and/or the plate. Washer sounds like a good idea too. Blade and plate should be FLAT no gap and blade SHARP. Sounds like you are doing it all right but something off... The very first time I started grinding meat (little $10 ebay plastic manual) it was just like using the chicken skin the first time and I was shocked how well it went. I made sausage a few years with store ground as I feared grinding... I am pretty confident once you figure it out it will not be a reoccurring thing. Keep in mind there will always be a little waste and funk like sinew bound up in the cutter head but it should be a small mount.

Totally agree with you on the umami of the chicken and skin and like it. IMO thighs and skin are similar to using veal. For a long time I was convinced I needed to use veal in my weisswurst but being a tight wad I tried thighs and skin and was ECSTATIC with the results.
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