Using a hairdryer as a DIY hack is fairly standard, so it's surprising that some people were shocked by Helen Rosner's use of a hairdryer to dry a chicken before roasting it in the aptly titled recent New Yorker piece, "Yes, I Use a Hair Dryer to Make Roast Chicken—Here's the Recipe". Maybe it was the manicure, maybe it was the cost of the hairdryer, but maybe it was the fact that people just didn't read the whole thing before hitting the comment button.
Here's the backstory: During one of the seemingly endless snow storms that barreled through the Northeast over the last month, Rosner live tweeted that she was roasting a chicken and part of the process was using a hair dryer to get the chicken completely dry, which is necessary for perfect crispy skin on a roast chicken.
Happy snow day, I am using an astonishingly expensive hair dryer to remove all moisture from a chicken to maximize skin crispiness when I roast it. pic.twitter.com/ngtzmoOSHf
— Helen Rosner (@hels) March 21, 2018
As Rosner noted in a story about her tweet and the reaction to it in the New Yorker:
I happen to care, above all else, about achieving a shatteringly crispy skin, which means that I need to get rid of as much water from my chicken skin as possible.
She salted the chicken and left in the refrigerator overnight to dry out. But it wasn't as dry as she wanted it to be when she was ready to start the roasting process, so she did what home cooks everywhere do when faced with a challenge—she made do with the tools she had on hand.
Necessity is the mother of invention, but Rosner will be the first to tell you that using a hair dryer as a cooking hack isn't anything new.
I am far from the first person to bring the device into the kitchen. Blow-dryers are used by pitmasters in South Carolina, yakitori chefs in Japan, and kebab cooks in Brooklyn. The exquisite nerds at "America's Test Kitchen" recommend them for softening chocolate and adding a gloss to cake frosting. And, as for crisping the skin on a bird, the legendary cookbook author Marcella Hazan calls for a six-to-eight-minute session with a handheld hair dryer in her recipe for crisp-skinned roast duck, which first appeared in her 1978 book "More Classics of Italian Cooking."
What was most interesting, and perhaps least surprising, was the response to the tweet of her drying the chicken with the hair dryer.
Some people asked why she didn't just stick the chicken in the refrigerator. (She did.)
Some people thought she was using the hair dryer to cook the chicken. (She wasn't.)
Some people just needed to comment that it was weird or that her manicure was too fancy or the cost of the hair dryer was too much.
Which, come on. Why wouldn't you use a $400 hair dryer in the kitchen? This censure may be more about buying a $400 hair dryer in the first place, but sometimes good tools cost money. Like that Le Creuset Dutch oven or the six-burner Aga stove or the Broil King Imperial grill. (And don't tell me a super-expensive grill is necessary to cook steaks and then grouse about using a $400 hair dryer to dry a chicken, because you could also cook that steak on a $20 grill from a big box store).
— rk (@knoxmulder) March 27, 2018
To be fair, Rosner notes that she used the hair dryer she had. Personally, my favorite parts of the story the Twitter users whose first reaction were, "Yeah, sure, the chicken tip is awesome, but tell me more about the hair dryer!" As someone who is on a quest to find a truly good hair dryer, the discussion in Rosner's Twitter feed about the greatness of the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer is far more useful than 30 positive reviews for the product on Amazon.
Whether you decide to use a hair dryer to dry a chicken in the kitchen or not, it's always a good idea to read all the way through something before commenting. And maybe look around your house to see what other common items you can use to make your cooking life better.