If you love crispy chicken skin, this is the recipe for you
Wed., Feb. 22, 2023
Ingredients are mixed together for a sauce for a ginger sauce for a chicken recipe in New York, Feb. 6, 2023. A gingery peanut sauce finishes Melissa Clark’s latest, which is just as much about the skin as it is the juicy dark meat. (New York Times)
As juicy and succulent as the meat of properly roasted chicken may be, I’m really in it for the bronzed bits of skin curling at the edges of the bird.
Salty, crispy and slicked with schmaltz, chicken skin is at its best when it’s been seasoned with garlic and salt, then left to sit uncovered in the fridge for a few hours before roasting. This gives the skin a chance to absorb all the flavors and to dry out. And the drier the skin when you pop the bird into the oven, the more golden and sizzling it will be when it emerges.
For this recipe, I used bone-in chicken legs, which are slightly easier to maneuver than a whole bird and cook faster, too. If I’m organized, I can make this on a weeknight, seasoning the chicken about an hour before I want to roast it. But it’s better if I plan early in the morning or even the night before so the bird can have a good long rest in the fridge, up to 24 hours.
To my usual garlic and salt seasoning mix, for this variation, I added grated fresh ginger for zip and a little toasted sesame oil for depth. Then I served it with a creamy sauce made from peanut butter and sesame oil.
If you have other things to do while the chicken roasts, you can skip the sauce and just serve the bird with some lime wedges on the side for brightness. But if you have a few minutes, the gingery sauce – velvety, piquant and spiked with more ginger and garlic – is worth whisking together.
One thing to note when you season the sauce: It should be sharp and assertive, as tangy as a salad dressing. Its bright pungency is meant to contrast with the brawny dark meat of the chicken and its even richer crunchy skin. Don’t be shy with the vinegar and salt; the bird can take it.
You’ll probably have some sauce left over, and it keeps well for about a week in the fridge. Slather it on roasted potatoes or other vegetables, or thin it out with mayonnaise and add it to any leftover meat to make chicken salad. The sauce is even good as a dip, maybe served with potato chips – which may remind you of the brittle snap of the best chicken skin.
Ginger Chicken With Sesame-Peanut Sauce
For the chicken:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more as needed
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 tablespoon grapeseed, safflower or other neutral oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
For the peanut sauce:
¼ cup soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more to taste
1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste
½ cup smooth peanut butter, preferably natural
Prepare the chicken: In a small bowl, mix together sesame oil, salt, ginger and garlic, and smear mixture all over the chicken and underneath the skin. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet (or plate), preferably on a rack to allow air to circulate, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the rack under the chicken if you’ve used one. If the chicken isn’t on a rimmed baking sheet, transfer it to one (you can line it with parchment to make cleanup easier, but it’s not necessary). Pat the legs dry with a paper towel. Drizzle chicken with the neutral oil. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.
While chicken is in the oven, make the peanut sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and ginger until combined, then whisk in sesame oil and honey. Add peanut butter and whisk until smooth. If the mixture is very thick (and this depends on your brand of peanut butter), whisk in a few tablespoons of cold water until it becomes a thick but pourable sauce.
Transfer chicken to a serving plate and carefully pour any pan juices on the baking sheet into the bowl with the peanut sauce. Whisk until combined. Taste the sauce and add more soy sauce, vinegar or honey if you’d like.
Drizzle or brush some of the peanut sauce all over chicken pieces, reserving some sauce for serving. Garnish with scallions and serve with reserved peanut sauce.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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