Pouring Boiling Water Over A Turkey Is A Game Changer

It's never too early to start planning your Thanksgiving meal. You might already be searching for new recipes and methods to try, or you might be eager to right a wrong committed last year, like dry turkey meat. If you're looking for the trick to crispy turkey skin, take a page out of a Peking duck recipe and pour boiling water over your bird.

The technique is used to guarantee the crispy skin and juicy meat associated with the traditional Chinese dish. Chefs loosen the skin from the meat by blasting air into a small slit, then dip the duck in boiling water, before leaving it to air-dry. Once the duck is roasted, it comes out characteristically juicy with crispy skin.

If you're ready to take the plunge yourself, start by gently separating the skin from the turkey meat using your hands or the handle of a wooden spoon, working carefully to avoid ripping the skin. Place the turkey in your sink on a rack or rimmed baking sheet, and gently pour boiling water over the top, paying attention to the breast and where the thigh meets the body. You can roast the bird immediately or leave it to air-dry in the refrigerator.

Crispy turkey skin requires eliminating as much moisture as possible

The method works for two reasons: Loosening the skin gives the fat a way out from under the skin as it cooks and renders. The hot water causes the skin to tighten and contract, kickstarting the rendering process, which is the key to crispiness. You can use the trick on any kind of poultry, like chicken, turkey, or duck.

If you're still on the hunt for crispy turkey skin but don't want to fuss with boiling water, there are other ways to achieve a similar result. Dry brining is a good way to go, but don't forget to add baking powder to your spice rub. This oft-touted trick to get the crispiest skin is reliably successful and recommended by numerous food bloggers. 

It works because baking powder lowers the pH of the skin so it can break down more easily. It also lets carbon dioxide escape, which creates tiny crunchy bubbles on the surface of the skin. The only caveat is that this method is best done ahead of time, so the turkey can rest uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. And don't forget the fat — the right way to roast a turkey and obtain crispy results is to rub the skin with clarified butter or neutral oil, which will brown and crisp up nicely.