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Baking soda to enhance browning


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I've done a little research on the idea of using baking soda to enhance the browning of chicken skin in the oven. Some claim that it dries the skin out, thereby making it more crispy. These advocates recommend putting it on the chicken the night before cooking. I've also read that it's the change in alkalinity the baking soda causes on the surface that enhances browning. There are places where it is recommended for scallops as well.

So what's the deal? Have you had success with this? Have you ever used it on beef roasts?

I'm cooking a tenderloin for Christmas and due to the timing/kitchen restriction, I can't sear the meat. I was wondering if dusting it with baking soda will increase the limited browning that will occur while roasting. Any other ideas? Broiler? I just hate the idea of brownish grey tenderloin.

thanks!

Can you eat that?

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I certainly haven't tried it, as I can't imagine the (to me) soapy taste of baking soda on the outside of roasted meat or poultry. Why wouldn't you use fat? A thorough oiling (or buttering) of chicken skin or tenderloin exterior has always yielded great browning for me. If you're really concerned about color, you can put a tiny bit of sugar (or honey) in any seasoning rubs/pastes used on the exterior. Sugar will help to form a nice brown crust.

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Cooks Illustrated covered this in their March 2008 issue. They rubbed a whole chicken with 1 tsp of baking soda and 1 tbsp of kosher salt and let it air dry overnight. They claim the alkaline environment broke down more cell walls, allowing more water to evaporate during the air drying and also enhanced browning.

Too much though can lead to a bitter taste.

PS: I am a guy.

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I did this a couple of times after reading the CI article and it worked great - beautiful brown crispy skin and juicy meat (dark and white meat). Not bitter or soapy tasting, but you've got to plan a day ahead and have space in your fridge for the bird to rest overnight.

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Thanks for weighing in everyone. I am intrigued too, but not enough to risk $100.00 worth of tenderloin :unsure:

I am going to oil the roast, cook it high and fast. I'm sure it will be fine....i"ll keep you posted.

Since this technique is always associated with fowl - I am going to try it on a roast chicken tomorrow night. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Can you eat that?

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