One of the hardest things for any cook to do in the kitchen is to cook a chicken that has crispy flavorful skin and juicy meat. There are a few ways to achieve this, but there is one method that is easy to do and produces a fabulously delicious bird every time. It involves using a weight to get beautifully browned crispy skin and finishing the whole thing off in the oven.
Now “back in the day” we used to use a couple of builder bricks for this recipe. These days using items from my kitchen just makes more sense. Using a nonstick pan and a heavy weight, you’ll be making this crowd pleasing chicken several times a month! Yes…it’s THAT good. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Chicken Under a Brick with Roasted Red Potatoes
- I like to use a cast iron skillet to cook my chicken. It provides even heating throughout the cooking process. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, a nonstick, 12 inch, ovenproof skillet with high walls will work.
- For the weight, you want something that’s about 10 lbs. I use one of my cast iron dutch ovens. You can also stack a couple of smaller cast iron skillets on top of one another, use a 10 lb, metal dumbbell weight, or use a couple of bricks. Whatever you use, make sure that you wrap the bottom or completely cover the item with heavy-duty foil to protect the chicken.
- Save the removed backbone of the chicken to make fresh chicken stock!
- This chicken can be prepped up to 24 hours in advance of cooking. Season the chicken and place it in the refrigerator. The flavor will be even more delicious!
- Make sure you are checking on your chicken as it’s browning. You don’t want it to get too dark and/or burn. If your chicken is browning too fast, turn the heat down.
- 1 whole 4 to 4 ½ lb. chicken, trimmed of excess fat, giblets removed and discarded, chicken patted dry
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
For the marinade:
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon plus 1 lemon cut into wedges
For the red potatoes:
- 1 ½ pounds red potatoes small, scrubbed, dried, and cut in half lengthwise
- Kosher salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- ½ Tbs fresh Thyme
- 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
TECHNIQUE: SPATCHCOCKING (BUTTERFLYING) A CHICKEN:
A spatchcock chicken is a chicken that has had the backbone removed and flatten so that it cooks evenly.
- Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down and tail facing you, using a sharp pair of poultry shears or a sharp knife, cut down along one side of the backbone lengthwise.
- With the breast side still down, turn the chicken around so that the tail end is now facing away from you, and cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it.
- Turn the chicken breast-side up and open the chicken (tail facing you) as wide as it will open.
- Place the palm of your hands at the top center of the breast and press down hard until you hear a small crack. This should make the chicken flat.
- Season the chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. See note above. This can be done up to 24 hours in advance.
- Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in an ovenproof, nonstick, 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until it slightly begins to smoke.
- Swirl the skillet to coat evenly with oil and reduce the heat to medium.
- Place the chicken, skin-side down, in the hot pan. Place the weight (see note above) on the chicken and cook, checking every 5 minutes or so, until evenly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Make the marinade:
- While the chicken is browning, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, 1½ teaspoons of the thyme, pepper flakes, and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
Remove the seared chicken:
- Using tongs or a combination of tongs and spatula, carefully transfer the chicken, skin-side up, to a sheet pan or plate and pour off any excess oil from the pan.
Roast the chicken and potatoes:
- In a large bowl, season the potatoes with Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste and sprinkle with the remaining ½ tablespoon of fresh thyme.
- Place the potatoes in the pan, cut side down, and carefully place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the potatoes.
- Pour the reserved thyme-lemon juice mixture over the chicken and potatoes and brush the mixture over the skin to coat evenly.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the thickest part of the breast registers an internal temperature 165 degrees and the thickest part of the thigh registers an internal temperature of 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Potatoes should be fork tender. If not let them continue to roast for an additional 5 minutes.
Finishing the Potatoes:
- The potatoes will more than likely be done, browned and fork tender. If not, return the skillet with the potatoes to the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes or until done.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, leaving the fat behind.
- Gently toss the potatoes with the parsley.
- Cut the chicken into pieces. Serve the chicken and potatoes immediately with the lemon wedges.
Recipe inspired by America’s Test Kitchen