What's the best way to get crispy chicken skin?

I'd love to hear your best/favorite techniques, or even any (mis)adventures you've had with getting that crisp, crackly chicken skin!

Jun
  • Posted by: Jun
  • March 8, 2021
  • 1371 views
  • 7 Comments

7 Comments

702551 March 9, 2021
Chicken skin is about three-quarters water. To get crispy skin you have to find a way to get rid of that water because it'll steam before it fries.

One valid procedure is to let the chicken skin dry out in the refrigerator, 12 hours or more.

Arthur Le Caisne covers this in his book "Secrets of the Butcher" (2017), particularly in the recipe Roast Chicken With The Crispiest Skin In The World (pp. 220-221). That recipe includes some procedures that I avoid like wet brining the bird. Wet brining changes the texture of poultry meat to something I do not care for so I dry brine; this is why I loathe deli turkey.

Le Caisne also mentions to detach the skin from the flesh by separating the two with your fingers. During cooking, the flesh releases a lot of water and by separating the flesh from the skin, the latter avoids rehydrating. This works.

For me, I separate the skin then dry brine (0.7% kosher salt by weight) for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator in a Pyrex dish uncovered, flipping over every twelve hours or so and mopping up any rendered liquid with a paper towel. The skin should be noticeably drier.

This works for both whole chickens and chicken parts. If you do this to chicken parts, you don't want to pile up the pieces since they won't have exposure to air. They need to be placed in a single layer (like a Pyrex baking dish) to maximize surface area for evaporation.
 
702551 March 9, 2021
A couple of followup notes. The Le Caisne roast chicken recipe calls for a rear sear, starts low-and-slow then finishes at high heat.

This is a great technique for lots of meats when you want a crispy exterior. Steakhouses cook sous vide then sear at the end for a crispy skin. Finishing duck confit is the same.

I do the similar for grilled chicken. Low-and-slow far away from direct heat then finish over direct flame.
 
Jun March 10, 2021
Oh this is such helpful advice. "Roast Chicken With The Crispiest Skin In The World" sounds so full of promise. I'm going to have a give this recipe a go!

Also, I'd love to have you share this recipe on our podcast episode. I've sent you an email with the details. Hope to speak with you soon!
 
AntoniaJames March 11, 2021
So much good advice here. Thank you, 702551! ;o)
 
Lori T. March 9, 2021
Do you want that skin on or off the bird? "Chicken-arones", off the bird skin treats, or just crispy baked chicken are two different things.
 
Jun March 10, 2021
On the bird! OH but on that note, "chicken-arones" are actually such great snacks, and make for an excellent garnish too!
 
HalfPint March 11, 2021
Try chicken-arones at a taco filling...You're welcome ;)
 
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