Sunday, October 14, 2007

Squished Chicken

I did the 12 to 6am shift on Friday and Saturday so needless to say I was asleep until noon today. This afternoon I decided it was time to try some culinary experimentation I've been roasting a chicken every Sunday or so for the last month and vaguely remembered a segment of the Splendid Table about cooking a chicken on the range with a weight. Fortunately the website is amazingly well designed and I found the recipe with relative ease.

Crisp, Brick-Fried Chicken with Rosemary and Whole Garlic Cloves

From The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider. To be published October 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers.

Serves 3 or 4

My favorite easy chicken dish is a whole bird, butterflied and fried in a skillet with a weight on top, Italian style. The result is succulent chicken—both white meat and dark—with a delectable crisp skin, and with much more flavor than the ubiquitous boneless breast; loss of bones always means loss of flavor. The dish takes about 5 minutes of actual work, and about 25 minutes unattended cooking time, during which you can have a cocktail and put the rest of your simple meal together, as your home fills with a lovely fragrance.

  • One 3-pound chicken, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 unpeeled garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Pinch sugar (optional)/li>
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper toweling. Place the chicken breast-side-down on a work surface. With kitchen shears, cut through the bones along both sides of the backbone and remove it. Trim off any excess neck skin. Spread the bird open, skin-side-up, on the counter and press down firmly against the breastbone with the palms of your hands to break and flatten it. Tuck the wings back and under themselves so they lie flat against the breast. Or, cut off the wing tips and discard.

2. If possible, season the bird at least an hour (unrefrigerated) or up to 24 hours (refrigerated) before cooking. Sprinkle the bird on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Press herbs against both sides. Bring the bird to room temperature one hour before cooking.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet, over medium heat: add the oil and swirl to coat. Blot the bird dry with paper towels and place skin-side-up in the pan. Place a heavy skillet, about 2 inches smaller in diameter, directly on top of the chicken. If you don't have a heavy enough pan - 4 to 5 pounds - use another smooth-bottomed item, such as saucepan. Balance it on the bird and add heavy objects to weight the pan down such as a can or two or a meat pounder (I've even used a rock). Cook the chicken until the underside is brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the weight and turn the chicken over with a pair of tongs. Replace the weight. Nestle the garlic cloves around the chicken and continue cooking until the skin is crisp and brown, 12 minutes longer.

4. To test for doneness, insert an instant read thermometer into the inside of the thigh; it should read 170°. Alternatively, poke the thigh with a paring knife; if the juices are clear, not pink, it is done. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.


I scrapped the seasoning and used sumac, white pepper, and oregano When it was done I made this lovely chicken salad after offering the obligatory tithe to Eli.

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