Easy Chicken Under a Brick

The bones are removed from a small chicken to flatten it and help it cook evenly. It's then air-chilled overnight to ensure the skin gets golden and crispy. Cooking it doesn't take a ton of babysitting - just check it every once in a while and adjust your heat as necessary.

  • Preparation Time15 mins
  • Cooking Time60 mins
  • Serves2
  • DifficultyEasy
One 3- to 4-pound chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed with skin on
1 lemon, quartered
4 to 5 sprigs fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage

1. Spatchcock the chicken: Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone from the chicken. Lay the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board and use a large knife to cut through the breastbone. Push the chicken down to flatten it out. Cut the wings off at the second joint (think elbow), leaving only a small piece of the wing remaining. Now locate the thigh bone. Use a small and sharp knife to cut the skin off away from the bone, working all the way down to joint. Once you're at the joint, bend the thigh bone back until you hear it pop and use your knife again to help remove the thigh bone completely. Repeat with the remaining thigh bone.

2. Turn the chicken over, blot it dry and refrigerate on a large plate or baking sheet, uncovered, overnight to dry out the skin (this will help make it extra crispy). If you have to skip this step, then dry the chicken as best you can with paper towels and refrigerate, uncovered, for as long as you can.

3. Sprinkle the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Heat the oil in a large 12-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Lay the chicken, skin-side down, in the skillet. Add the garlic and herbs to the skillet. Now use either 2 bricks wrapped in foil or another heavy, slightly smaller skillet filled with large cans (tomato cans work nicely) directly on top of the chicken. Cook, leaving the chicken mostly undisturbed, checking every once in a while to make sure the skin is browning evenly and not getting too dark too quickly, and adjusting the heat as needed, until almost all of the meat is white (except for the very top of the breast) and the skin is a deep golden brown and crispy, 30 to 35 minutes.

5. Remove the bricks or weighted skillet and turn the chicken over using tongs and/or a spatula, being careful not to rip the skin. Continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 75°C, 15 to 20 minutes more.

6. Remove the chicken and let rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve with lemon wedges.

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