Braised Chicken with Cracklings
by Scott Bell
Braising is an easy way to get wonderfully tender chicken, but what about crispy skin? The braising liquid will prevent the skin from getting crispy in the oven, but luckily we can achieve it by adding one more step to the cooking process.
All that’s needed for this recipe is a whole chicken, a couple of sprigs each of rosemary and thyme, salt, pepper, and a braising vessel (I used a roasting pan covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil).
- Remove everything from the cavity (neck, liver, &c.)
- Salt and pepper the cavity generously
- Place the whole sprigs of herbs directly in the cavity
- Place the chicken in the braising vessel with 1/2c of water (the chicken will release some water as well)
- Cover and cook in a 350F oven for 20-25m/lb (2h for a 5lb chicken)
- Remove the chicken from the oven and collect the skin — it should come off easily
- Cover the chicken and allow it to rest while the cracklings are made:
- Chop the skin into small pieces
- Cook in a skillet at medium to medium-low heat for 20-30m until the fat has rendered and the skin is crispy. Rendering will take some time, so be patient and don’t allow the skin to brown too much early on. You can add a bit of oil or water at the beginning to get things started.
We don’t season the outside of the chicken like we normally would because the cracklings will be reduced in size quite a bit when we render them and we don’t want to over-salt — they can be seasoned while they are being made.
The cooking time is a bit more flexible for braising, so this is a good recipe if you don’t have a meat thermometer handy.