The Juiciest Chicken
Jaw-dropping centerpiece dishes require two essentials: salt and time. Preseasoning is the simplest thing you can do to make a good piece of meat great. Given enough time to penetrate tissue, salt works flavor magic: It denatures proteins, breaking up their molecular strands into shorter amino acids—among them an abundance of glutamic acid, the essence of umami—to release a complex symphony of savory flavors. Typically, cooking a whole chicken presents the challenge of simultaneously cooking white and dark meat. Here, wet brining plumps the white meat, giving it a head start while also tenderizing the dark meat. Air drying after brining ensures a well-bronzed bird. This method also works well with a whole turkey; simply adjust cook time for bird weight.