True or false: crispy browned skin is the BEST part of roast turkey or chicken! I say true. Don’t even bother debating me. I would eat all the skin off the Thanksgiving turkey if it weren’t totally socially unacceptable.
Below are my best tips for a crispy-skinned, evenly-browned turkey or chicken, and why they work!
Simple Steps to Perfectly Browned Skin:
🍗 Remove the bird from any packaging and thoroughly pat dry all over. Place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Store in the refrigerator uncovered for 12 hours to allow the skin to dry out.
🤓 This technique works because dry skin crisps and browns more readily than wet skin. Refrigerator air is very very dry, and dries out skin efficiently. The Maillard reaction, a collection of chemical reactions that happen when meat or skin browns and creates new flavor compounds, cannot occur until much of the moisture has left the meat or skin. So, drier skin = browner skin and more flavorful skin more quickly.
🍗 Allow the bird to sit out of the refrigerator 30-40 minutes at room temperature before seasoning or baking. This will help the bird cook more evenly.
🤓 This technique works because a bird right out of the fridge will have very cold bones, which can prevent the meat closest to the bones from cooking at the same rate as the meat furthest from the bones. Allowing time for the temperature to equalize throughout the bird means your bird will cook more evenly and potentially more quickly. This idea of “cold bones” is debated, but I have found the difference to be VERY noticeable when roasting a whole bird. I think it is due to the cavity in the center of the bird. Allowing a spatchcocked chicken or turkey to sit out would not be as important because the cavity is not a factor.
Keep scrolling for more crispy brown skin tips!
🍗 Before baking, rub the bird’s skin and cavity down with softened unsalted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
🤓 This technique works because butter is delicious. Poultry skin doesn’t actually NEED butter to brown because the skin already has a high fat content. But, it’s Thanksgiving, aka #butterfest2020
🍗 Start the bird at a higher temperature (I do 425F) for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat (I do 350F) for the remainder of the cooking time.
🤓 This technique works because the higher temperature gives the skin a head start on browning.
Two more lil’ reminders:
🍗 Roast the bird on the wire rack that it dried on for maximum crispy skin acreage. You can place aromatics like herbs, citrus, or veggies under the rack for flavor.
🍗 Rotate the roasting pan every 20 minutes or so for even heating.
🍗 If any part of the bird begins to brown too much, put a little foil shield over it!