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What's the secret to crispy chicken skin?

edited 3:15PM in EggHead Forum
When I've done both beer-butt and spatchcocked chicken, the skin is always soft, rubbery, and just generally not-too-tasty. I do all the usual stuff with rubs and oils but it doesn't seem to help. So what's the trick?


  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    MikeK,[p]It sounds like you did it under 325 deg. It will be gray and rubbery if not done at grilling temps (325 and up).[p]I add a little olive oil to the skin on turkey and chicken breasts to make the brown better.[p]Tim
    [ul][li]Tim's cookbook[/ul]
  • BlueSmokeBlueSmoke Posts: 1,678
    I'm looking for the same thing. I got closer last week with a Peking-Duck-style chicken. Here's what I did [and why].
    Loosened the skin as much a possible [so the skin is separate from the meat]
    Blanched in simmering water for 5 minutes [to start cooking the skin and rendering the fat]
    Hung the bird to cool and when cool put in refrigerator for 4 hours, uncovered [to dry the skin - refrigerator has a dehumidifier]
    Brushed with half-and-half molasses/water mixture [to stiffen the skin, and to carmelize]
    Returned the bird to refrigerator for 4 hours more [to continue drying]
    Fired both Eggs [to enable rapid temp changes]
    On vertical roaster, cooked chicken in small Egg, 30 mins at 375º [to cook skin] large Egg, 60 mins at 250º [to cook meat] small Egg, 30 mins at 400º [to finish skin][p]The bird was delicious, the skin closer to crispy than ever before. (And the color was a luscious mahogany). The bird was very close to the chimney in the small, and I should have adjusted high temps up by 25º to compensate for temp drops when opening the dome.

  • WardsterWardster Posts: 1,006
    I do mine at 350*. 20 min one side and 25 on the skin side. Somtimes it's too crispy. Turn up the heat a bit and do not use a grill extender. See if that helps.

    Apollo Beach, FL
  • BluesnBBQBluesnBBQ Posts: 615
    "I'm looking for the same thing. I got closer last week with a Peking-Duck-style chicken. Here's what I did [and why].
    Loosened the skin as much a possible [so the skin is separate from the meat]
    Blanched in simmering water for 5 minutes [to start cooking the skin and rendering the fat]"[p]Can you explaing blanching a little? Do you boil some water, turn the heat off and put the chicken in it? Or do you keep the pot of water on medium/high temp when you do this? I need to try this.[p]

  • MikeK,[p]I do a lot of chicken breasts. That's all the family likes and they insist on crispy skin. So I bring the temp up to 350 and throw the breasts on skin down for about 45 minutes (lid closed). After the 45 minutes I flip the chicken over for another 10 minutes (large, very large breasts). The skin always comes crispy and the meat always tender and moist.
  • WooDoggiesWooDoggies Posts: 2,390
    MikeK,[p]Rubbery skin on chicken is about as pleasant as drinking a can of Black Label that had been opened the night before and allowed to set in the sun all day... [p]Here's a condensed version of a technique King o Coals sent me last January. I'm a big fan of roast chicken and this chicken is really really good and foolproof... hence the name. The skin comes out crispy brown, the breast turns out moist, the meat is fall off the bone done and the taste from the brining is the shiznit. Just the way I like it.[p]K.O.C's Fool Proof Chicken:
    "...brine the chicken(s) in 1 gallon of water per one cup of kosher salt and whatever spices you like.
    Brine for at least 24 hours.
    Remove birds from brine and rinse really well. Force your hands and fingers under the skin to break it loose from the meat as you rinse.
    Rinse, rinse, rinse. Pat dry.
    Then prop the birds up in a container and let sit for another day in the fridge to drain off really good.
    Then pour olive oil on them and your hands and work it under the skin. Try to get under the skin on the legs and the thighs as good as you can too. Then pour on the spices and seasonings of your choice. Work it under the skin too. Then let that sit another day, whew,, a three day process but you will love the results.
    Try to tie their wings and legs close to the body as much as possible.
    Put the chicken up on a holder to grill them, a beer can will work if you don't have a holder. Beer-butt chicken didn't impress me so you can add liquid to the can or not.
    Anyway, this is the best part. Get your grill going good and holding around 300-325 or a little above.
    Let them cook without looking for about 2 hours.
    Then open up and stick a thigh deep into the dark meat with a small stick thermometer. Let them cook until the thigh meat goes to 200 or even above.
    They will be fall-apart tender and juicey. The brine keeps even the breast meat from drying. I promise"
    ~KOC 1/27/2002[p]Over the months I have made some changes that work well for my tastes.
    -3/4 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar and loads of whatever spices to 1 gallon of water... making sure brine is cold before submerging chicken.
    -brine overnight 12 hours no more than 14.
    -24 air dry on vertical roaster.
    -next morning rub with ex virgin olive oil then loads of rub on and under skin... Dizzy Dust and Gilded Splinters are winners... and back in fridge to air dry.
    -that evening roast no higher than 325 with light touch of cherry wood on vertical roaster over an 8" round of foil to catch drippings and take the edge off the direct heat.[p]A note on food safety... get to know your fridge and find the coolest part and put the chicken there to dry.
    Very Important to keep the chicken under 40 degrees. The spot I use in mine hovers around 36 degrees.[p]This recipe never fails to wow the folks who are lucky enough wrench it from my hands. [p]Sho am good eatin'.[p]WD[p]

  • char buddychar buddy Posts: 562
    MikeK,[p]An easy way to get crispy skin. Loosen skin - run your fingers between the skin and the carcass. Get a good quality olive oil (I dunno, for some reason the quality of the olive oil makes a difference for my chix) and rub the oil under the bird's skin. Then rub the oil on top of the bird's skin. The looser the skin, the crisper the results. You'll probably only be able to loosen the breast area, but do your best to run your fingers down to the thigh and into the leg area (it helps to have long fingers.) [p]Cook anyway you like - chix on a throne, spathcocked, in a roast rack. Cook any temp you like (even as low as 250º) and you'll get a reasonably crispy skin assuming your cook the chix to an internal temp of 180º or so in the thigh. The higher your temp up to 350º the crispier your skin (sorry, make that the higher the temp, the sooner you get a crispy skin.) [p]Since you're going to the touble of putting all this oil on the chix, you might as well flavor up the oil - smash some garlic, pound some peppercorns, toss in a chile pepper flake, add a little thyme (go nuts - but not too nuts). [p]CB
  • JimEJimE Posts: 158
    Many will shudder at the thought, but I've found the best way to crisp up the skin is to cook skin side down for the last few minutes with the lid UP (gasp). It doesn't effect the moisture in the meat, so long as it was not overcooked to begin with, and will crisp up the skin every time.[p]Jim

  • Fine Cooking Magazine recommends ...
    ([p]Use an initial surge of heat for crispness without
    making a mess. A blasting heat crisps the skin and gives the chicken a great roasty flavor, but we recommend just an initial 15 to 20 minutes at 450°F, followed by a more moderate 375°F for the remaining cooking time.
    High heat throughout cooking works,
    but the fat spatters a lot, making a needless mess. If the heat is too low, however, the skin never really develops that lovely crispy brown and the meat tastes too bland. [p]I personally have cooked brined birds at 450F for about
    an hour. 350F is generally recognized as a "baking" temp
    while 450F is classified as the "roasting" temp.

  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 1,991
    Do you close the lid or leave it open after that last flip, for the last 10 minutes?

    Judy in San Diego
  • Judy Mayberry,[p]The lid remains closed.[p]
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