This crisp roast chicken in a skillet takes advantage of an extremely hot skillet and oven to make perfectly cooked chicken with shatteringly crisp skin.
This is the cookbook version of the Crispy Bell & Evan’s Chicken made famous at The Little Owl in NYC. Their extraordinarily succulent and ultra crispy chicken is easily prepared at home with attention to technique and the hottest oven you can possibly manage. The beauty of the recipe lies in how quickly you can be serving a restaurant quality chicken at your own table.–Jenny Latreille
Crisp Roast Chicken in a Skillet
- One (3 pound) whole chicken, preferably air-processed butchered into 2 boneless portions (ask your butcher to do this), or 2 large skin-on boneless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 1/3 cup mild vegetable oil
- 1 lemon halved
- Preheat the oven to as high and as hot as it can possibly go. We mean highest.
☞TESTER TIP: An oven temperature between 500 and 550°F (260 and 288°C) works best here. The hotter the better for the crispiest chicken ever.
- Place the prepared chicken on a clean surface, skin-side up. Season generously with salt. Turn the chicken over, making sure to move the chicken breast tenderloin over (it’s like a little flap) to bridge the gap between the thigh meat and the breast meat, creating a perfectly even sheet of meat, and season generously with salt and white pepper. [Editor’s note: If you’re using breasts, just try to make the meat as uniformly shaped as possible so that it cooks evenly.]
- In a large ovenproof skillet (wide enough to hold 2 portions of chicken without overcrowding) over high heat, add the oil and heat until it smokes, 3 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, tilt it away from you, and gently, calmly, and nicely place a portion of chicken in the pan, skin-side down. (Don’t throw it in the pan, fancy pants, or you’ll get splashed with oil and burn yourself or your special somebody standing next to you.) Listen to that sizzle! Immediately add the second portion the exact same way.
- Give the pan a little shake and then transfer it to the oven, cooking on one side only, until the juices of the meat run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C), 8 to 14 minutes.
- Serve immediately with a lemon half.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Simply stated, this dish was a huge success. We inhaled our crispy chicken. The meat was succulent and the skin was as golden and as crispy as the title promised. It is restaurant-quality, hands down. And your dinner can be on the table quickly so have your table set and any sides ready to go!
All one needs is three basic ingredients, your air-chilled organic chicken, and a “smoking-hot skillet” and “super hot oven.” I really liked the use of white pepper here. I think it creates a more subtle and deeper flavor than what you usually achieve with freshly ground black pepper. I typically use white pepper in white sauces because it’s enhancing power blends so anonymously. I rarely use it to season poultry or meat. So good here.
My son thought for sure I slipped pads of butter under the skin prior to roasting because the meat was so rich. Recipe calls for just oil, salt, white pepper, and lemon. I had Yukon gold baby potatoes on hand, so I steamed and smashed them so I could reuse what was left of the chicken fat and juice in the pan while the meat rested. Alternatively, if you didn’t have the time to trouble with fried potatoes, crisp-up a rustic hunk from a baguette or sauté fresh cubed ciabatta croutons so as not to waste the remaining lemony chicken juice. One thing is for sure, you do not want to wash any part of this dish down the drain.
I used to try to be a hero and make everything from scratch. After having many moments of tears streaming down my face in pure exhaustion while trying to get dinner on the table, now I know better. So, if you don’t have time to cut up your chicken, don’t worry; you will get the same delicious result whether the butcher cut up the chicken or you did. This recipe was noteworthy since the chicken breast and thigh both came out of the oven perfectly moist with crispy skin, and I loved the addition of the lemon at the end. I served this with a grated carrot salad, simple and classic.
Who doesn’t love crispy, salted chicken skin, one of the greatest gifts to our taste buds (right after bacon)? Many years ago, I got adventurous and deboned a turkey, which was stuffed with a sausage pistachio dressing, reshaped into a “bird”, then roasted it for Thanksgiving dinner. It came out very good, but I never did it again as it was a lot of work.
I used a few toothpicks to help keep the leg/thigh meat attached to the breast meat, as it’s only held together by the skin. I grabbed some sunflower oil, as it is good for high heat cookery, and got that shimmering in a very large, 12” nonstick skillet. Just before placing the chicken into the pan, I gave it a good wipe with paper towels to get it nice and dry, and then a heavy dose of salt and white pepper to both sides of the bird. I gently slid each half carefully into the very hot oil, and it did splatter a bit, so beware. I let it cook for about a minute, and you can see it browning and crisping up very quickly too, before placing the pan in the oven. I checked the temp after about 5 minutes, and took it out when it reached 165F, overall time about 8 minutes in the oven.
I let it rest about 10 minutes before serving it. The skin was wonderfully brown and crispy, the meat luscious. I just gave the chicken a brief spritz of lemon juice, and I felt it didn’t need much else in the way of added flavor. This is a good “make ahead” meal for a small dinner party as most of the work can be completed earlier, only a few minutes on the stovetop, then it’s into the oven and plating the final meal.
Next time I might leave the chicken on the stove top for an extra 30 seconds to a minute to get the skin even crispier. An added bonus, I gave a quick roast to the wingtip and carcass, then simmered the bones with some veg and spices to make a stock for using later. The little bits of meat left on the bones were saved as a treat for Tommy, our cat, who can never get enough chicken!
To get the skillet to the proper temperature for crispy skin, I cheated here, as I always do—I put the skillet in the bottom of the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to preheat before putting it on the hot burner.
The cooking time was about 15 minutes, but this was largely due to the size of the chicken I used. I cut each chicken half in half again, and with the large chicken used it was still a bit too much for four people. I think a smaller chicken would serve 3 to 4 easily.
I served the chicken with steamed broccoli and pasta, to rave reviews.
Originally published January 13, 2021