Crispy Skin People

There was the scent of panic at The Aerie this past weekend.  A successful Thanksgiving dinner was teetering in the balance.

Probably the one drawback to the kitchen in our home is that when the previous owners remodeled, they put in great cabinets and granite countertops, but they left a small wall unit oven and microwave.

Now, living in San Diego, we grill a lot, so a small oven isn’t too much of an inconvenience.  The looming problem was that with Thanksgiving on the horizon, we realized the oven was going to be too small for the Bird (not to mention any side dishes).

We considered what it would take to replace the oven — tearing out cabinets and essentially re-re-modeling that side of the kitchen.  For one meal a year, that seemed a little extreme.  Fortunately, my very smart friend Sharon (who visited with us right before the fires a couple of weeks ago) suggested that we get an electric roaster that could hold a big Bird.  Brilliant, we thought – perfect solution.  The kitchen stays intact, the oven can be used for side dishes and the cost was ~$50.  Sweet.

One of the Beloved’s favorite meals is roast chicken, so Friday we engaged our new Nesco 18-qt roaster on its maiden mission.  The aroma of cooking chicken was intoxicating.  The anticipation was building.  Finally, we removed the cover and …

… panic.

B: “Where’s the crispy skin?”
S: “It looks like stewed chicken.”
B: “Where’s the crispy skin?”
S: “It smells good…”
B: “There’s no crispy skin”
S: “I know.  There’s no crispy skin.  That’s not good.”
B: “We’re crispy skin people!
S: “We’re crispy skin people – my GOD!! What about the TURKEY!?!?!?

Yes, little did we know that while the roaster did an excellent job of cooking the chicken, there was a MAJOR drawback – the constant condensation (which keeps the meat moist) prevents browning.  Crispy turkey (or chicken) skin is not so much a like-to-have.  It’s a have-to-have.  It’s a the-whole-reason-you-cook-the-thing-type-of-have-to-have.  In fact, my mother once cooked two smaller turkeys for Thanksgiving rather than one large one with the sole purpose of increasing the crispy-skin-to-turkey ratio.

Slightly panicked, but undaunted, we set out for another crucial experiment this Sunday.  We did a practice turkey run.  It was supposed to roast for 3 hours.  With a half-hour to go, I removed the turkey (moist, but with pale drab non-crispy skin) to a pre-heated grill for the remaining 30 minutes.

SUCCESS!!  That was enough time (maybe could have used a little longer) for the skin to crisp-up and the meat remained moist and tender.  Woo hoo!

Crisis averted and panic-level down.  Bring on Thanksgiving!

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23 thoughts on “Crispy Skin People

  1. "my mother once cooked two smaller turkeys for Thanksgiving rather than one large one with the sole purpose of increasing the crispy-skin-to-turkey ratio."
    I think your mother and I could have been great friends :)

  2. Yeah, I like your mom's thinking!I wonder if it would crisp up with one of those cooking bags? That is what I always use in my oven and the skin comes out wonderfully, not to mention the rest of the bird.

  3. That's awesome. Glad you were able to find a crispy skin solution.Although not for the faint of heart, you could also look into deep-fried turkey for your crispy-skin goodness. My father-in-law and brother-in-law both do a mean deep-fry, and the turkey comes out moist and tasty, with plenty of crispy skin to go around. Plus, no oven required! (Although be careful with that hot oil, it's about as dangerous as you can get in the cooking arena!)

  4. We actually had to cook two turkeys last year (had a lot of family coming). So, one went in the oven for a traditional bake. The other was BBQ-ed on a charcoal grill- it went quick (1-2 hrs), the turkey was moist (the secret is brining it the night before), and it had crispy skin. You sound like you figured it out with your Nesco, but thought I'd throw out the 100% grill idea in case you wanted an alternate.

  5. Hilarious!It's odd that you would post this; I have my own Thanksgiving sort of post coming up soon.And I hate to admit it, but… I don't think I'm a fan of crispy skin. When it comes to turkey, I usually avoid skin altogether. I'M WEIRD.

  6. Seriously, for a moment, with your title, I thought you and The Beloved had decided to embrace cannibalism, and that you were going to go troll the beach for people who had stayed out in the sun for too long.You should try a deep-fried turducken. Not that it's good. I haven't actually had any. But I hear you should try it.

  7. Ross and Ashbychick — we considered the deep fried turkey for a bit, but I couldn't overcome breaking with the roasting tradition. I am really curious about it though — I've heard its really good, though I've yet to try one.

  8. Janette — yes, the go-for-the-grill was probably going to be the solution before we got the idea of the electric roaster. I think we'll definitely try that out for a chicken and/or a turkey at some point.

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