Ina Garten's Extra Step For The Ultimate Roast Chicken

Ina garten
Ina garten - Brad Barket/Getty Images
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If you could choose a few words to describe Ina Garten's cooking style, "simple" and "elegant" would be at the top of the list. She excels at turning approachable, comfort foods into show-stopping meals, so it's no surprise that she holds the secret to a perfectly roasted whole chicken. Much like most of her recipes, there are no obscure, fancy ingredients to elevate a chicken dinner. After all, she's the woman who coined the phrase, "store bought is fine." Instead, as she revealed on her Food Network series, "Barefoot Contessa," Garten spreads salt all over the chicken as soon as she brings it home from the store and then stores it overnight in the refrigerator. The salt is absorbed into the chicken skin and meat and creates a roasted chicken that's super flavorful.

It may seem like a funky step if you're not a chef, but salting the chicken in advance is backed up by a bit of kitchen science. The technique has a name, dry brining, and it will give you crispier, tastier roasted chicken. All you need is some coarse Kosher salt, a whole chicken, and a little space in your refrigerator.

Read more: 15 Tricks For Making The Most Crispy Chicken Thighs Ever

The Science Of Dry Brining

Dry brined chicken and Kosher salt
Dry brined chicken and Kosher salt - Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

If you've ever made a Thanksgiving turkey, you've probably heard of brining, which almost always means wet brining. This is a process of soaking food in a salty solution for several hours to keep the meat juicy and tender. The meat absorbs the solution over time, and the salt that gets in will trap moisture inside, so when it comes time to cook you'll have much juicer meat.

Dry brining works the same way, scientifically speaking, as wet brining, it just uses the natural moisture in the meat instead of water. With this method, you don't have to fuss with a big bowl, pot, or bucket of solution for your whole chicken. Over time, the salt on the surface of the skin will pull moisture out of the chicken that dissolves the salt, creating a thin, natural coating. If you let the chicken sit in the fridge long enough, the meat will reabsorb the salty liquid, which works just like a wet brine to retain moisture and flavor in the meat.

"The first thing I do, actually, is I salt it in advance. When it comes home from the store, I salt it, put it in the fridge, and all that salt gets into the meat so it gives it lots of flavor," Garten explains.

Refrigerating Is An Important Step

A whole roasted chicken on a cutting board
A whole roasted chicken on a cutting board - etchartx/Shutterstock

Believe it or not, the refrigerator also has a major role to play when you're dry brining and roasting a chicken. Yes, it's the place to properly store the meat before you cook it to keep it out of the temperature danger zone so you don't get sick from foodborne illnesses. However, the refrigerator stays cold because there's a fan constantly blowing cool air around inside, which also dries out anything that's uncovered. You can use this to your advantage by leaving your salted chicken open to the air in the fridge, which will dry out the surface and give you the crispiest roasted skin.

Even if you can only refrigerate the chicken for an hour or two before you start roasting, it's worth it, but if you can remember to salt it the day before as Garten does, you'll get amazing results. Not only that, it's super easy; all you have to do is cover the bird with a generous coating of salt, stash it in the fridge, and it's ready for roasting the next day.

Read the original article on Daily Meal