Air-Drying Chicken: One Easy Step Away From Dinner Perfection
Thank God for chicken.
It’s healthy, inexpensive, and quick to prep.
However, it’s also really easy to over-cook--thus convincing your kids that they hate eating it--unless it’s coated in crispy, deep-fried brown bits. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and it doesn’t have to take up a ton of your time with standing in the kitchen flipping chicken tenders in hot, bubbling oil. The answer: Roasted chicken. I know, I know, you are imagining hours and hours of oven time and an intimidating amount of prep work. But guys, there is absolutely nothing more delicious than a roasted chicken because the meat roasts on the bone, ensuring it stays juicy and tender. And it is a total cinch to prep, which is ideal for the working mom who doesn’t necessarily have hours to luxuriate in the kitchen…or a culinarily-blessed husband!
My secret is in a technique called “air drying,” which is nothing more than allowing your chickens to rest in the refrigerator, uncovered, for up to three days. It’s a technique you absolutely should learn and employ because it guarantees impossibly crunchy skin and moist meat. And, most importantly, you can (and should!) roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, broccoli, onions, sweet potatoes, and any other veggies underneath the chicken at the same time, no additional cooking or pan-scrubbing necessary. Could there be anything more delicious than potatoes cooked in delicious chicken fat? Here’s how it goes:
The night before, a few days before, or the morning before you want to serve this meal, liberally salt the chicken and let it sit in the fridge, uncovered. The longer the bird sits the better, but the point is to give it at least six hours in the fridge. The salt draws out all the moisture from the bird and guarantees a lacquered, crispy brown skin. This is a super-easy task you can also ask a nanny or housekeeper to do for you, should you employ one. You should also cut up the veggies of your choice (another easy task to ask of a nanny or housekeeper) and keep them in the fridge, too.
Then, you just come home, throw the veggies into the bottom of a roasting pan, put the chicken on top, and pat the chicken totally dry with a paper towel. Douse the bird in a nice coating of olive oil, throw on a bit more salt and pepper, and throw the whole pan into a pre-heated oven at 420 degrees.
Spend the next 30-45 minutes getting into your comfy clothes, unwinding from a long day of work, giving your kids baths, helping with homework-- you get the idea. Dinner is doing its own thing, and you’ve spent a total of five minutes prepping it. No additional work necessary! Just cut your bird into eight pieces, put it back on the roasting pan, and bring the whole tray to your dinner table. Cut up a few lemon wedges, get some crusty bread, dip it into the gorgeous pan juices, and enjoy as a family.