Genius Recipes

This Roast Chicken Has the Crispiest Skin Ever

Rotisserie-tender and crackly as can be—this week’s Genius Recipe is a new sort of roast chicken we didn’t think could exist.

April 22, 2020

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.


From the pantheon of great roast chicken recipes, I’ve cooked a whole lot—but never one like this: extremely tender, rotisserie-style meat with the crispiest possible skin. Before now, this had been an either-or choice.

The technique is also as beginner-friendly as it gets—easy to carve, and very difficult to overcook. And waste-averse, too: It’s designed to help you love every last bit of the chicken, and lends itself to appreciatively eating in smaller portions than usual.

Perhaps best of all, the bird will mostly cook itself—you just have to intervene and do one slightly kooky thing along the way.

Worth all kookiness. Photo by Julia Gartland.

In its celebration of salty, crackly, Frito-esque skin, this recipe comes from a somewhat surprising place: a cookbook about gut health. But, as the subtitle explains, it’s a book about gut health “for people who love delicious food.”

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I have made it with too much water yielding YUK, so how much water would you have added to the pot of the 2.5# chicken. How long would you cook it before you cool and freeze. ps You Are Awesome and I love watching you cook. ”
— SallyHuebscher
Comment

Lindsay Maitlund Hunt, a former food editor and recipe developer at Real Simple and BuzzFeed, was inspired to write her latest cookbook Help Yourself after cooking through her own health struggles. “So much of diet culture is talking about what you can’t have, and I really don’t want to think about that,” Lindsay told me. “There are so many other reasons we eat.”

She knew she wanted to include a slow-roasted chicken in the book. Thanks to a 300°F oven—for some context, Barbara Kafka’s Genius chicken cooks at 500°F—the white and dark meat both relax and become fall-to-pieces tender, much like a good rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. (1)

Lindsay says relax.

The meat is buttery-soft enough to pull from the bone instead of formally carving, which allows you to eat only as much as you like, rather than committing to whole pieces. (2) And, unlike with high-heat roasting, which races from juicy to parched if you don’t catch it in time, you can forget this chicken for 10, 15, even 20 extra minutes in the oven without disaster.

Now, about that skin: Roasted low and slow, it makes for an excellent buffer from the drying heat of the oven (“It’s self-basting!” Lindsay says). But it won’t get deeply golden and crispy—at least not all on its own. (3)

This is why, after gently coaxing the chicken to a yielding, fall-apart state, Lindsay tugs all the skin off and blasts it in a high-heat oven. Each yanked-off piece, large and small, quickly renders into sizzly, practically-fried chicken chips you can sprinkle over your brothy pulled chicken, and into your mouth.

While the sudden strangeness of this step made me giggle at first (just me?), it’s nothing more than a dream-realized version of the instinct we all feel when pulling a golden bird out of the oven—to sneak off one little piece no one will miss, and then another. (Except, this time, you have permission not to stop.) I also like to remember the time Jacques Pépin showed us how to skin a raw chicken in one swift motion on Facebook Live, saying he was simply taking off its pajamas.

This delightful maneuver will help you make the most of every part of your best-of-all-worlds bird, and give you a pile of pulled chicken to weave into your sandwiches, rice bowls, and quesadillas all week—or even freeze for future ones.

Not the crispy bits though. When I asked about freezing those, Lindsay laughed, “No, eat the skin! I don’t think that’ll be a hard task.” It’s definitely not.

(1) If you’re wondering why, scientifically, this is so, Harold McGee explains in On Food and Cooking, "Because the heating process is more gradual, there is less extreme coagulation in the tissues, and less fluid will have been squeezed out in the process."

(2) Those bones can go straight into a pot of water for simmering into chicken stock, with the lemon and herbs if you want a lemony chicken soup the next day, or with just the herbs and bones if you don’t. No waste.

(3) Carla Lalli Music’s solution in her also-excellent Faux-tisserie Chicken is to coat the bird in crunchy spices, like ground fennel and chile flakes.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
Order Now

The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.

Order Now

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • EthanZ
    EthanZ
  • Basil and Roses
    Basil and Roses
  • SallyHuebscher
    SallyHuebscher
  • David Grebow
    David Grebow
  • Sasha Barker
    Sasha Barker
Comment
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."

73 Comments

EthanZ May 13, 2020
The grocery store was out of roasters when I wanted to cook this a second time, so I grabbed some leg quarters. Worked like a charm in a casserole dish - added a splash, maybe 1/4 cup, of stock + lemon juice to make up for not having the cavity to hold moisture. About 1 hr 20 min for five, largish thigh/leg quarters. Be sure to check the temperature on all of the pieces, as they will vary in size and therefore cooking time..
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. May 15, 2020
Excellent tip, thank you!
 
Basil A. April 30, 2020
Love your videos, Kristen! (In the studio or otherwise).
Fun new trick, will be trying it since we're roasting a lot of chickens while staying home these days. Thanks for sharing your home with us and appreciate the positive attitude.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. May 15, 2020
Thanks so much—sorry I'm just seeing this!
 
SallyHuebscher April 28, 2020
I want to make stock like you suggest. I have made it with too much water yielding YUK, so how much water would you have added to the pot of the 2.5# chicken. How long would you cook it before you cool and freeze. ps You Are Awesome and I love watching you cook.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 28, 2020
Hi Sally, I filled that pot you see in the video with water (I think it's about 3 quarts) and let it simmer on low for a couple hours—the longer you let is simmer and reduce, the more concentrated it will be. And for more good flavor, you can always add onion, garlic, herbs, or veggie scraps. Hope that helps!

 
Heather G. April 30, 2020
I covered my bones with about an inch and a half of water, an onion (unpeeled) chopped in 8 pieces, 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic, smashed, and 2 bay leaves with some red pepper flakes and salt. Cooked on low for about 4 and a half hours, strained, and the stock is yummy good... I dont know the measurements, but the covering of the bones is probably a good eyeball suggestion, no matter if it is a 2lb or 5 lb bird...??
 
David G. April 27, 2020
That made my day! Kristen Miglore please do away with the formal test kitchen and I-am-a-professional cook and use your own kitchen and family ... coronavirus has created a new approach to cooking demos. We loved your family and loved the crispy chicken! Yikes, who knew! And if you do not have parsley any green will do is the answer to every cook's presentation question.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 28, 2020
Great point—so handy to have an herb sub always.
 
Sasha B. April 27, 2020
I get the same result using my chicken brick; I just remove the top for the last 30 minutes.
 
kokoputt April 27, 2020
What is a chicken brick?
 
kokoputt April 27, 2020
Never mind. Sorry!
I just googled the term and all sorts of articles came up about clay bakers and chicken bricks. Looks like a good thing to have on hand.
 
Sasha B. April 27, 2020
Mine holds a 5lb chicken. I've had it for almost 40 years. I have always used the same half for top and bottom (the top has a nice char inside). You get lots of juice to save or use as gravy. So much that I have to pour it off halfway through.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thanks for sharing, Sasha.
 
Andrea April 26, 2020
I made this chicken last night, and, not to brag....but....Woah. Seriously easy and so very delicious! I will never make roast chicken any other way again. That crispy skin only adds to the yum factor. Thank you, Kristen for a fun video, too!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
So happy to hear this, Andrea!
 
[email protected] April 25, 2020
I am definitely going to make this chicken. I’ve often bought store-bought roast chickens I’ll take them home take all the skin off put the skin on a pan and bake it in 400° oven until all the fat is rendered off. Then the family begs barters and steals to eat all the crunchy bits. Thanks for the recipe. Make a salad put the chicken on top and then break up the crunchy bits on top of the salad. Yum
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
You were really onto something!
 
kokoputt April 24, 2020
Easily the best chicken I have ever tasted. The skin crumpled up over the cooked chicken another layer of flavour.
Normally I don't really care for the white meat, as it's usually dry and tasteless by the time the rest of the bird is cooked. Not this time! The meat stays really tender and lifts away from the bones so easily. And the flavour!!
The lemon makes it really moist.
I will never buy a rotisserie chicken ever again! This is sooooo much better!
Thank you for this method.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Wonderful! Thanks so much for letting us know, kokoputt.
 
Mabel C. April 24, 2020
One Question, When the skin was placed I the oven to make crunchy she placed her hands on her pants after closing oven door then went to counter and grabbed the chicken meat. Not Good.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Hi Mabel, I'm not really sure what the concern is—I grabbed the chicken carcass to simmer for stock after briefly touching the waist of my clean pants (that haven't left the house in 6 weeks!). Also, if this video included all the times I washed my hands between cuts, it would be 2 hours long :)
 
avril April 24, 2020
Love this!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thanks!
 
Diana April 24, 2020
Hi Kristin. Thanks for the fun trick. Can you tell me where to purchase the kitchen towel/potholder you used during your demo?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thanks Diana—I love this double oven mitt, and have had it forever. (Amanda and Merrill have, too.) We sell some slightly updated designs in our shop: https://food52.com/shop/products/4107-food52-x-farmhouse-pottery-double-oven-mitt-apron-gift-set
 
srpuywa April 24, 2020
my best way to roast a chicken is to first boil it with carrots, onion and celery. then dry it off, coat it with oil, salt pepper, and then pop it into a 450 degree over until desired color
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Love it—never heard of this!
 
Srabani R. April 24, 2020
So, I love Food52 and have tried many of your recipes. What you may not know is that I currently live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I just tried this amazing slow cooked roast chicken and I rubbed the chicken with an amazing Kampot lemon pepper, spice rub (famous Kampot pepper, sought after by French chefs the world over!). And it was DELICIOUS!! If you can find Kampot pepper (http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20200115-the-worlds-most-prized-pepper) it really is the best pepper in the world! Thank you Kristen -- I LOVE so many of your genius recipes! When living in a place like Cambodia, when you can't get all the ingredients, I've managed to make some delicious meals/food following your recipes (including the Richard Sax's Chocolate Cloud cake!) Thank you!!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
This is so wonderful to hear, Srabani.
 
Lynda B. April 23, 2020
I thought it was fun to see you in your kitchen doing what you do. In these times seeing the munchkin, hearing your husband and feeling the joy you were having in preparing this for us was a treat. It shows that you are making the best of the situation, still working, and bringing your readers and viewers great content.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thanks so much, Lynda.
 
Bennett April 23, 2020
Where did you learn how to use a knife , lol also didn’t hear what temp you were slow roasting at but for a 2-3 lbs chicken i would roast it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
For better or worse, culinary school :) A paring knife on a falling-apart tender chicken breast wasn't the best choice—next time I'll just pull it apart with my hands.
 
Bennett April 23, 2020
Where did you learn how to use a knife , lol
 
Khub April 23, 2020
Live your videos!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thank you, Khub!
 
nitechef April 23, 2020
I was looking for some super duper special "secret" and kept on looking and found a normal somewhat overcooked roast chicken with nice crispy skin.
With the build up I had a big let done. This should have been covered in half the time.
I would also say that the host's voice trails off to a lower volume toward the end of a sentence making me just guess what was said. Of course this was not done in a studio. Perhaps a mic fitted closer would help.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thanks for your feedback, nitechef.
 
areessvee April 23, 2020
oven fried gribenes - yum!
 
Rosalind P. April 23, 2020
Almost. Gribenes need onions. In fact that's an Americanization of the Yiddish word, which actually means onions. Render some chicken fat from chicken skin in a pot, throw some onions in when a lot of the fat is rendered and cook until they're browned, along with the skin. A Jewish version of cracklings.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Great to know, Rosalind. (And wow, schmaltz-fried onions would be amazing here.)
 
Rosalind P. April 27, 2020
Always my pleasure to be a part of the conversation.
 
Liz A. April 23, 2020
i can't wait to make this!!! and i loved seeing you laugh so much :D
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 27, 2020
Thank you, Liz! <3