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A few recipes I have tried calls for some liquid, typically a ladle of stock or broth, to be added to the baking tray before placing into the oven to finish the cooking process. (To assist in cooking the protein, not crisping the skin)

For example, a pan roasted chicken thigh is pan fried quickly to colour the skin before placing into the oven, skin side up (bottom and inside basically raw)with a ladle of stock. 15 minutes later, the chicken is cooked nicely but the skin is not crispy.

I have my oven set to 200 degrees celsius fan assisted. I suspect its all the water vapour inside the oven preventing the skin from becoming crispy as when I open the oven door, a large cloud of steam is released. What could I do to fix this?

Another example would be when roasting a belly pork with crackling. The belly sits on a rack above a tray of water. When the pork cooks the juices collect into the water below in order to make a gravy afterwards, but the skin isn't always as crisp as I hoped.

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If you want crispy skin don't add liquid to the pan, I don't know why a recipe would call for a ladle of stock to crisp up the skin because it would have the opposite effect. Steaming before baking is a method used for making crispy chicken wings, but with that method you pat the wings dry before you bake them as moisture will prevent them from crisping up.

I love crispy chicken skin, and it's easy to achieve in a dry oven. I rub the skins of the pieces with a bit of oil, then sprinkle with salt and spices before baking them in a 200°C (395°F) fan oven for 35 minutes. It works every time.

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  • The purpose of the liquid was not stated to crisp up the skin, but another example would be making crackling with a large piece of belly pork, and a tray of water to collect the roasting juices for making a gravy afterwards
    – Diu.Lei
    Oct 29 '21 at 13:33
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I'd agree with the other answers - adding liquid won't really aid crisping of the skin, if you are using the pan fry and then roast/braise technique that you describe (which I do like, and often use) I'd make sure that the skin is really crispy and browned in the initial pan fry (that's basically the point of that first step) - it might take up to ten minutes, but I generally find if the skin is properly cooked then, it doesn't get soggy in the second step.

The great thing about the technique is that its easily adjustable to basically any flavour combos, the braise is more for flavour/gravy rather than cooking - as Kenji covers here - note he also mentions early on the importance of thorough cooking of the skin and to keep the liquid level low enough to make sure you avoid this exact issue.

If you don't want the sauce/gravy with the chicken then cooking dry in the oven is the way to go.

The only possible reason I can think that someone might suggest adding the liquid could aid crisping of the skin is that it essentially means you can roast the skin & top of the thigh, whilst the meat underneath is braised. The braising liquid insulates the flesh and allows that to cook more gently whilst the skin at the top is subjected to the higher, drier (of not fully dry) roasting heat - but even with this guess, I wouldn't recommend it as a technique if the goal is purely crispy skin (if that's your only goal, then dry roasting is better).

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  • I think you might be correct with the last part about braising the underside of the meat, as the majority of the cooking is on the skin side, the non skin side only sees a flash of heat before going into the oven. If this is the case, around how much liquid do you recommend adding? I would also assume that means I should crank the oven up to the highest?
    – Diu.Lei
    Oct 29 '21 at 13:44
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    I'd be sure not to add so much level such that it comes above the skin you want crispy - appreciate on thighs the skin often wraps all the way around, so I guess about 1cm? Personal preference on that as to how much crispy skin you want on top (everything submerged won't be crispy). And yes, I'd have thought that technique is most effective with much hotter ovens, so crank it up!
    – rhinds
    Oct 29 '21 at 14:04
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My method for roasted chicken with crispy skin on the outside and moist, tender flesh on the inside is to sprinkle desired spices on top of the skin with a bit of cooking spray and roast for 1.5-2 hours at 375 F (190-200C) uncovered. I think the length of time roasting makes a big difference and the chicken comes out delicious with crispy skin every time. ( This is for chicken thighs and legs on the bone. For chicken breast on the bone, I would reduce the cooking time by half hour at least) If you are still not obtaining the desired results, I would increase the temp and lower the cooking time. The large cloud of steam is from the water and I believe you are correct - the chicken will not become crispy with all of that humidity. Good luck!

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