There’s not much better than a perfectly cooked chicken—crispy skin, juicy meat, you know the drill. In fact, we appreciate a good chicken so much that we frequently order roasted chicken at restaurants-—it’s the true test of a good chef. But, you don’t need to be a chef to cook the perfect chicken. We’ve got a few tips from Chef Elana to ensure your next chicken is restaurant-worthy.
Resist the urge to cut into your chicken to check its doneness
While cutting into your chicken is one way to see how cooked the inside is, it allows the juices to run out, leaving you with dry chicken instead of a dish that’s moist and flavorful.
Use a thermometer
The best way to check if your chicken is cooked to the right temperature is to use a thermometer. This keeps you from overcooking your chicken (and helps you avoid cutting into it). You want to reach the ideal temperature of 165°F for chicken that’s tender and delicious.
Braising is an easy and foolproof way to cook chicken that’s juicy and flavorful. Using an ovenproof dish—a cast iron pan or dutch oven both work well—brown the skin until it’s crispy. Then, flip the chicken and add white wine and chicken stock covering about three-quarters of the chicken so the skin on top is still exposed. Put it in the oven and cook until the meat is falling off the bone. It is as easy as that!
Take a pass on the butter and oil
Cooking chicken without butter or oil yields great results. Since chicken skin has a lot of fat already, you don’t really need to add more to get crispy skin. Start by putting the chicken skin side down in a cold, dry pan and cooking it on the stovetop. You’ll know it is ready to flip when the chicken no longer sticks to the pan. This usually takes longer than people expect, but once you’re able to lift it off the pan easily you’ll see some of the best, crispiest skin on your chicken!
Make sure your chicken is dry before you cook it
In order to get the most picture-perfect chicken skin that’s golden brown and crispy, you want to start with chicken that’s incredibly dry. One tip to achieve this is to take the chicken out of its packaging a day before you plan to cook it. Pat it with paper towels and put it in the fridge, uncovered, overnight. This will help to really dry it out so it is ready to cook the next day.
Deglaze for an easy and decadent sauce that’s a great compliment
When you’re cooking chicken (or any meat, fish, or vegetables for that matter), you’ll often end up with some stuff stuck to the bottom of your pan—this is actually the key to the most delicious sauce! Instead of battling with it in the sink, add some wine and stock to the pan over medium heat, use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits, and finish by whisking in a few pieces of cold butter. It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll end up with the fanciest tasting sauce that will not only make your friends think you’re a professional chef but will also make cleanup a whole lot easier.
Remove the wishbone when cooking a whole chicken
This tip is more about making serving the chicken easier. When you take the wishbone out in advance, you’ll have a much easier time carving.
Save extra bones and bone-in pieces
Don’t let all this flavorful goodness go to waste! When you’re finished cooking your chicken, keep the extra bones to make a delicious stock. Just combine with water and leftover veggies and herbs, and cook on the stovetop.
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