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Jan 20, 2010 05:21 PM

How to get crispy chicken skin?

I have a new ceramic "beer can style" chicken roaster. It is easy to use, creates very moist & flavorful meat, but I cannot get the skin nicely browned & crisp. I've tried dry rubs (as recommended with the instructions) and a light brush of olive oil on the skin. Roasting at 350 with the meat thermometer in place. Great chicken, but miss the crispy skin. Any recs?

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  1. In the Chinese kitchen, we thoroughly dry poultry before roasting. That's how the crispy skin is achieved. Don't use a dry rub. Use salt & pepper and a little olive oil if you must. Hang that chicken in front of a fan put on low for about 4 hours prior to cooking, then roast -- at 400 -- and I guarantee you that you'll have the crispiest-skinned chicken you've ever tasted.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      Of course, it would greatly help if you have a walk in refrigerated room where you can plug in a fan while the chicken hangs for 4 hours; hanging a supermarket chicken at room temperature in a home kitchen for 4 hours is something that would rub American sanitation sensibilities the wrong way (yes, I understand the idea is that cooking will kill whatever blooms in those 4 hours, but....)

      1. re: Karl S

        Best way, IMO, to achieve this effect is to put the bird or pieces on a rack, over paper towels on a sheet pan, uncovered in the fridge, for at least a few hours. Air chilling, and dry brining, where you slather the skin with kosher salt, will dry it out and it comes out beautifully browned and crisp, every time. I do this all the time with whole birds and pieces. Also helps to cook on convection, which will circulate hot air around the food and help it to brown nicely.

    2. I have to agree with Shaogo. Any wet saute will make the chicken skin less crispy. Salt will further improve the crispiness. You want the outer surface of the skin dry. Although oiling the chicken surface very slightly help, just no water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I addition to the good recommendations above, sometimes you can sort of separate the skin from the meat with your fingers - leaving the skin intact, of course, but finding a way underneath at the top of the breast or near the thigh.

      2. Here is the new Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America's Test Kitchen:

        and here is the article explaining the science of their technique:

        If these links don't work, go to the site and register for free - which is NOT the same thing as a free 14-day trial membership. Then under episodes look for the current season's show on chicken soup and crispy chicken.

        1. The simplest way to get crispy skin on a roasted chicken is to use high heat. I just dry the chicken, salt and pepper and put it on a rack in a 450 degrees preheated oven. No extra oil or fat and no basting. For a 3 1/2 pound chicken, figure about 50 minutes. Using a 'beer can style' chicken roasted will make it even crispier. Low temperatures just makes the chicken steam.

          1. Air drying it as shaogo suggests would definitely do the trick.

            Another method is to use a baking powder, salt and pepper mix. First, cut some slits on the back of the chicken, then stick your fingers into the slits and loosen the skin from the skin. Now cover the chicken with the baking powder, salt and pepper mixture. Then stick the entire chicken, uncovered, in the fridge for 24 hours. Roast as usual. You should have a really nice crispy skin, plus a pretty darn tasty chicken.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Hmm - interesting. What does the backing powder actually do?

              1. re: rudeboy

                Ipsedixit is synopsizing the ATK recipe which I previously linked to upthread, along with a link to the scientific explanation.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Greygarious - thanks for the link.

                  For those of you who don't want to sign up, here's a paraphrased version:

                  Crisping Chicken Skin
                  from the Episode: Chicken Classics, Reinvented

                  Baking powder and table salt will draw moisture from the skin of the chicken, helping the skin to dry out.

                  Baking powder is composed of an alkali (sodium bicarbonate) and an acid (monocalcium phosphate). As the baking powder absorbs the moisture from the skin, the acid and alkali will react. This breaks down the proteins within the skin. The alkaline baking soda and broken-down proteins will undergo browning reactions faster, thus creating a browner, more flavorful skin.

                2. re: rudeboy

                  I had to laugh at myself. My sick mind envisions squeezing a lemon all over the cooked baking-soda chicken. And the chicken explodes!

                  1. re: shaogo

                    No. What you need to do is inject the baking soda underneath the skin and then put chopping up lemon bits inside the chicken. As the chicken is baked, the acetic acid (a volatile compound) will evaporate from the lemon and interact with the baking soda and then BOOOOOM! Ha ha ha.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Then what you'll need to do is clean the oven, kitchen walls and ceiling and order in.