Essential Tools

The Trick for Crispy Chicken Skin Is in Your…Bathroom?

March 23, 2018

Of all the places you might think to turn for kitchen inspiration, the bathroom would probably be last on the list. This week, Helen Rosner, a food correspondent for The New Yorker, proved why that should change when she took a blow-dryer to her whole roasted chicken to give it a perfectly crisp outside.

Her suggestion came via Twitter, where she shared a picture of a bird in a pan and a hand wielding a blow-dryer, dutifully applying a small jet stream of air to the chicken’s uncooked outer layer.

Before it goes in the oven, Rosner suggests giving a whole chicken a 24-hour salted air dry in the fridge, followed by a blow-dryer blast on cool to wick any remaining moisture. This, she claims, is the key to that extra crispy chicken skin we’re all chasing. Some on Twitter bucked the idea of using an appliance in the kitchen that’s more commonly associated with self-care and hair maintenance. The peculiarity of her method garnered significant attention—it even got picked up across the pond, and Dyson, the makers of Rosner’s hair dryer, joined in:

But bringing a hair dryer into the kitchen is no new move. Our own Alice Medrich suggests using the appliance to melt chocolate:

Make sure your hands, cutting board, knife, spatula, and bowl are completely dry. Chop or break the chocolate into pieces—no need to chop finely—and put them in the bowl. Hold a hair dryer 8 to 10 inches from the chocolate, pointing it straight down into the bowl. Turn it on and move it around to warm the chocolate, stirring from time to time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

And before that, Marcella Hazan championed training a blow dryer’s blast on the uncooked skin of a duck. In Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, she recommends patting down the skin with a paper towel before going at it with hot air for 6 to 8 minutes. As Rosner mentioned in a follow-up tweet, the practice has parallels in the preparation of Peking duck: The uncooked ducks dry out in fanned rooms before they’re cooked, crucial for achieving that trademark external shatter.

After introducing us to her method, Rosner tossed the bird into the oven over a bed of chopped vegetables for a roast. It emerged looking gold and crunchy all over. I can’t say this is a trick I’ve yet tried—or thought to—but the next time I give roasting chicken a shot, it might be high time I reach for a blow-dryer.

Have you ever tried this method? Tell us how it went in the comments below.

4 Comments

FrugalCat April 18, 2018
No, but here in humid Miami, I learned to turn on a fan while working with puff pastry or other doughs that don't like moisture in the air.
 
BerryBaby March 26, 2018
I turn on the broiler if it isn’t golden enough. It’s only for show, though, we don’t eat the skin.
 
cv March 25, 2018
Nothing new about this; it's a modern hack to approximate what happens in a really old device: a wood-fired oven.<br /><br />In a properly managed wood-fired oven, you'll see a log, usually burning in the far corner. The primary function of this log is not to provide heat, but to create a convection current.<br /><br />The hair dryer attempts to duplicate this.<br /><br />If you have a fancy oven, just turn the convection fan on. That's what it's designed to do: mimic a wood-fired oven.<br /><br />Another easy alternative is to roast the chicken in a grill using indirect heat. Gas-fired grills have plenty of ventilation holes although depending on the grill design, they may not be optimal for generating convection currents.<br /><br />However, a cheap charcoal-fired Weber BBQ kettle can create awesome convection currents. Open the vents and/or leave the lid ajar. Same drying effect. Cooking with indirect heat on a grill is very similar/cheap way to approximate using a wood-fired oven.
 
Antonine March 25, 2018
Wow, who'da thunk it? I'm going to try this on the turkey that I cook in my Nesco roaster. I bet it works!