Menu
Search
Menu
Close

We make mistakes so you don’t have to.

Get unlimited access to ALL our foolproof recipes, unbiased equipment reviews and ingredient ratings. Guaranteed to work for you.

Try CooksIllustrated.com Free for 14 Days

Email is required
How we use your email address

Keeping Skin from Shrinking

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2008

Achieving moist, crisp skin, usually comes at a price. Is there a way to get both without chicken skin shrinkage?

PROBLEM: While creating our recipe for Stovetop Roast Chicken, we tried a variety of approaches to achieve both moist meat and perfectly crisp skin. One method, steaming the raw chicken in broth and then searing it in a hot pan, skin-side down, crisped the skin but shrunk it to half its size.

EXPLANATION: Chicken skin is composed of protein, fat, and water. When steamed (which occurs at a relatively low temperature of about 212 degrees), the fat slowly renders out, water evaporates, and the proteins tighten, causing the skin to shrink dramatically.

SOLUTION: We seared the chicken first, then steamed it. Searing at a very high temperature (close to 500 degrees) causes the proteins inside the skin to rapidly crosslink, setting the skin into a firm shape before it has time to shrink. Even subsequent steaming will not lead to major shrinkage.

STEAMED, THEN SEARED

SEARED, THEN STEAMED