For Bon Appetit, by Alyse Whitney.
Do you ever feel like you’re the “before” part of the infomercial when your pan-roasted chicken thighs stick completely to the pan? Don’t freak out, and definitely don’t try to scrape it off. The magical secret to getting that crisp-skinned meat out of the pan with no casualties is patience.
Even though the skin will release from the pan on its own eventually, you may still be freaking out about it sticking in the first place. To prevent this panic, just follow a few of senior food editor Chris Morocco’s expert food-flipping tips, and never find yourself writing a eulogy for lost crispy skin again.
Pre-heat your pan. Temper your meat (aka don’t cook it right after it comes out of the fridge). Slick your pan with enough fat. Morocco says if you’ve done these three things, you’re probably in no-stick territory. If you’re using cast iron, you’ll have to preheat a few minutes longer than a standard stainless steel pan, and if you’re using nonstick... why are you even reading this?
If your food starts to stick, your pan probably wasn’t hot enough or you didn’t add enough fat. So first, try to turn up your heat a bit and add a splash of fat to see if it releases off naturally before you force it. Generally, bone-in, skin-on chicken should sear for about 10 minutes undisturbed. (Keep this Arrested Development GIF open at all times in case you forget this rule!)
“If your food starts to stick, your pan probably wasn’t hot enough or you didn’t add enough fat.”
Choose the Right Tools
“Not all spatulas are created equal,” Morocco notes. When in doubt, use a flexible fish spatula — even for chicken. It is made of thin metal and has a small sloped bevel at the front to jimmy underneath skin and help pry it off the pan if you mess up.
Or You Could Not Flip at All...
The issue with a long sear to crispiness is accidentally scorching your meat. To avoid that, Morocco suggests starting chicken start in a cold pan to render slowly or browning and then letting it cook through, skin-side down, in a 400°-oven. This will hold the meat at the optimal temperature and keeps you from having to flip it at all. Now go forth and eat all the crispy-skinned food you can handle.
Now learn about how to get that crispy-skinned fish.
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