Chicken under a brick is an approach similar to Italy’s pollo alla mattone. In Italy, instead of simply seasoning the meat, cooks build flavor by marinating it in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and herbs, such as rosemary, then searing the chicken, skin side down, with bricks on top. They then usually flip it and finish it in the oven. Here, we spatchcock the bird and add a dry rub.
For this recipe from Milk Street, the skillet in which the chicken is cooked must be oven-safe, as the bird roasts in the oven after the initial stovetop sear. For the “brick,” you can used a second heavy skillet or a large, sturdy pot (such as a Dutch oven). My Mister cleverly used the already-filled skillet with Brussels sprouts intended for our side dish. The weight presses the chicken down, ensuring the bird makes good contact with the hot skillet, rendering the fat and crisping the skin.
Our chicken was larger than suggested at 4.4 pounds, but it did fit our large cast iron skillet (see tip below).
TIPS: Don’t use a chicken much larger than 4 pounds, as it may not fit comfortably in the skillet. Don’t forget to pat the chicken dry before searing. The drier the skin, the better it crisps. After searing, make sure to drain the fat in the pan before putting the bird in the oven; this reduces splatter. Finally, don’t forget that the skillet’s handle will be hot after being in the oven. — Milk Street
Georgian Style Chicken Under a Brick
- 1½ tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. granulated garlic
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 3¼- to 4-lb. whole chicken
- 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 2 Tbsp. salted butter
- 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, end to end. Remove and discard the backbone (or save it to make broth).
- Spread open the chicken, then turn it breast up. Use the heel of your hand to press down firmly on the thickest part of the breast, until the wishbone snaps. Season all over, front and back, with the spice mixture, rubbing it into the skin. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the lowest position.
- Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Place the chicken breast down in the pan. Lay a small sheet of foil over the chicken, then place a second heavy skillet or pot on top. Reduce to medium and cook until the skin is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, removing the weight and foil and checking every 4 to 5 minutes to ensure even browning.
- Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a large plate, turning it breast up. Pour off and discard the fat in the skillet. Slide the chicken breast up back into the pan and place in the oven. Roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160°F, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest while you make the sauce.
- Set the skillet (the handle will be hot) over medium-high and cook the butter and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then cook until the garlic is softened and the mixture is lightly thickened and reduced to about ¾ cup, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Using a silicone spatula, mash the garlic until almost smooth and mix it into the sauce. Off heat, stir in the cayenne, lemon juice and cilantro, then transfer to a serving bowl. Carve, then serve with the sauce.
Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street