I'm getting conflicting advice on roasting chicken pieces. I want crispy skin. Best method?
I recommend heating your oven to 400 degrees and heating a cast iron pan over medium-high heat (high if your stove is weak). Add a mix of oil and butter, then the chicken pieces skin-side-down. Saute them until they're golden brown, then transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking, turning them once.
for a whole chicken the skin should be as dry as possible - salt the skin before roasting and let it - run your fingers to create an air pocket under the skin, butter under there never did anyone harm neither ;)
for chicken parts, I like to sear the chicken skin down for a few minutes in a hot skillet and then finish in the oven.
Chicken processors use a ton of water during the plucking stage, as I understand it, so there's a lof of water that gets absorbed in to the chicken and skin. So I salt the chicken the night before I'm going to roast it and leave it unwrapped in the frig overnight (loosely wrapped works too). The next day, I remove any moisture on the chicken with a paper towel. Then I prep it as I normally would and roast it. This works for a whole chicken or individual chicken pieces. When roasting, I start at a higher temp like 425F until the chicken skin starts to brown, then lower the temp to 350F for the duration. I get a crispy skin every time.
Per chezsuzanne's response, a huge percentage of your supermarket hen is water. Whole Foods sells air chilled birds which are perfect for roasting. I love crispy skin myself and it drives me totally bonkers when people want the skin to be taken off. Weenies! I ran into this recently when I was helping to prep cook for a wedding. I almost threw down my apron and got ready to walk out with my knives.
Follow the Zuni Cafe's guide for cooking chicken and you will be thrilled every time. It is a long brine that draws the liquids out and then lets it reabsorb. It leaves you with a perfectly seasoned bird with crispy skin! http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/9123872/