I had brick chicken at several Italian restaurants, and I thought, how difficult could these be? The answer, not that hard to do a perfect “brick” chicken.
First thing is to learn how not to be intimidated by removing the bones from a whole chicken. I had been doing a technique that used kitchen shears to cut the backbone out on both sides of the spine. However, there is an easier way that I had forgotten, a technique that I had used years ago to make a chicken “en sacuisse,” a Jacques Pepin recipe for a stuffed deboned chicken served cold as an appetizer. His method of deboning a chicken is something that will take less than 10 minutes, and requires the use of your 2 hands and a paring knife.
So, now that you followed that very clear video, you have a chicken carcass that is perfect to make a stock, and a flat deboned chicken awaiting your pleasure.
- Add flavor: finely chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped tarragon, and 1 to 1½ tablespoons of freshly chopped thyme. Sage, marjoram, or rosemary would work as well. Mix with 1½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and apply to the exposed meat, the skin surface and use some to put under the skin to directly season the meat under the skin.
- Marinate: Put the chicken in a Ziploc and let it hang out in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
- Season: Just prior to cooking season the skin with coarse sea salt (or kosher salt) and freshly ground black pepper, and to a lessor extent, on the exposed meat side as well.
- Where the brick comes in: If you have a couple of spare bricks around, wrap them in aluminum foil. If not, take a heavy (cast iron if you have it) skillet and wrap foil around the bottom of the heavy skillet. If the skillet is not heavy, weigh it down with a 28 ounce can of tomatoes that you happen to have lying around. Use a 10 to 12 inch diameter skillet and heat it with medium high heat. Take the chicken and place it skin side down in the 1st skillet, and put the weight (2nd skillet, bricks, skillet + big can, etc.) on the exposed meat side. There is enough oil from the marination to provide for the cooking of the 1st side. It will take about 10 to 12 minutes to get a crisp skin. It will end up looking like this: a still not completely cooked chicken. Flip over the chicken.
- While the 1st side is cooking, preheat the oven to 400°F. Take the 1st pan, and put it in the oven to another 10 to 15 minutes, until a instant read thermometer stuck in the leg or thigh portion reads 171°. Don’t forget even if you have a skillet with a silicone handle, the handle gets hot too. Remove the pan carefully, and put the chicken on a heated plate, covering very loosely with aluminum foil (the piece used on the cast iron skillet will serve nicely).
- If desired, create a pan sauce with 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan (discard the excess), 1 finely chopped shallot and ½ cup of dry white wine, then boil down and thicken. “Mount” the sauce with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add a little chopped parsley or chives. Enjoy!