There are so many “secrets” to perfect roasted chicken that we end up overloaded and overwhelmed about what method to choose. Even me — and I’m someone who roasts a chicken a month, if not more often. The reason for all the recipes isn’t just because roasted chicken is a near-perfect food that we seem devoted to perfecting. And it’s not because chicken cookery truly is complicated: each part of the bird is ready at a different time and temperature.
No, the real reason is that almost every chicken recipe is trying to make up for the fact that purchased whole chickens come out of the wrapper really wet. To get crispy skin — the ultimate goal — without drying out the meat, we mess with the prep and the oven temperature and the time before cooking that we salt.
So what’s the secret? According to Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto roasted chicken fame, the secret to perfect roasted chicken is dry skin. If you have room and time, you can parch the skin by wrapping the bird in paper towels and leaving it on the fridge shelf for a few days. If you have less room and are squeamish about a raw bird near your produce, here’s a more low-key way to dry: dry the chicken well, then leave at room temperature for two hours before cooking. Dry again before adding oil and salt and putting the bird in to cook. (There are even more chicken tips in my latest guide on First We Feast.)