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Simple Cooking: Crispy Skin Chicken

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Aug 8, 2012 4:00PM

Something we care about deeply, in addition to rising gas prices and the war on drugs, is crispy chicken skin. Good skin can elevate a chicken breast or thigh from “thanks for cooking tonight, honey” to “ALL HAIL MASTER CHEF _________!” [Insert your name here. Or mine.]

We've fried chickens, grilled chickens, baked chickens, roasted chickens, and rotisseried (is that a word?) chickens, but this double-cast iron skillet is the best method for getting really, truly, crispy chicken skin.

Chicagoist’s Crispy Skin Chicken (Serves 2, or 1 very hungry person)

You’ll need:

  • ½ chicken, cut down the backbone*

  • 1 ½ Tablespoons coarse sea salt

  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper

  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 cast iron pans**

*You can also make this recipe with a whole chicken - cut down the backbone and flatten out so you have a butterflied image of the chicken shown in the pictures. A whole chicken should serve 4 people, or 2-3 big eaters.
**If you don’t have a second cast iron pan, you can use a brick wrapped in aluminum foil, or something else that’s heavy and oven-safe.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Rub the chicken with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Coat generously with the coarse salt and black pepper.
3. In a cast-iron skillet, heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil on medium high. The oil is ready when you flick a drop of water into it, and it sizzles.
4. Turn on your vent fan. This is about to get crazy.
5. Using tongs so you don’t burn your precious little forearms, place the chicken skin side down into the skillet. Hear the sizzle. The sizzle is good.
6. Place the second cast-iron skillet over the chicken, pressing down so the maximum amount of chicken skin is touching the pan.
7. Allow the chicken to sear this way for 3-4 minutes. Lift off the top skillet and check the skin. Is it getting brown? Good. Replace the skillet and sear for 3-4 minutes more, or until the skin is a dark, golden color.
8. Place the chicken (and yes, both skillets) into the oven and finish cooking for 20-25 minutes. The chicken is ready when the insides are no longer pink and the juices run clear.
9. Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it for serving.

The drippings left over in the pan can be used to make an excellent gravy.