Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuscan Brick Chicken

I got this idea from watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network. She marinated her chicken in rosemary and lemon juice and then grilled it. I have been in love with lemons for the past six months or so, much to my husbands dismay. He's not a fan of citrusy flavors, however he fell in love with this chicken. There is just a hint of lemon flavor shinning through along with rosemary and garlic. Cooking the chicken "under a brick" or in my case, under a heavy cast iron pan with a teapot full on water on top, crisps the skin while keeping the chicken nice and moist. You can do this on the grill too if you'd like.

What You Need:

juice and zest of 2 lemon
2 or 3 springs of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 roasting chicken, flattened

What To Do:

Flattening a chicken is pretty easy. All you need to do, is take a very sharp chef nice, or a really good pair of kitchen shears and cut down both sides of the spine, starting at the birds neck. You will encounter the ribs but they're thin enough that it doesn't take much effort to cut right through them. Once you have the spine removed, you can save it for making chicken stock. Then just open up your chicken and gently press open. Make a cut into the breast bone at the top of the bird to help flatten it even more. Be careful when pressing it open as you can cut your hands on the ribs. Then just remove the breast bone but pulling it out. It comes out fairly easy. If you want to see this done, click this link. It will bring to the Barefoot Contessa show that I got the idea from. At about 14 minutes into the video, she shows you how to flatten the chicken. What she doesn't show you is how to remove the ribs but this was fairly easy as well. I took a sharp pairing knife, lifted up the ribs and just ran the pairing knife along the underside to remove the connecting tissue. When you get to where the ribs connect with the wing, just give it a bend and you'll see where the joints come together. Just separate it at the joint and that's it.
To marinate the chicken I season the skin side with salt and pepper. Then I take my microplane and zest one of the lemons onto it, then I do the same thing with half my garlic. I then squeeze the juice from the zested lemon over the top, drizzle 1 tbs of olive oil on top and then use my hand to rub it all in before sprinkling it with the rosemary, flipping it over and do the same thing to the other side. I do this in a big baking dish so that there is plenty of room for the chicken. Just cover with plastic wrap and popped in the fridge. Let it sit for at least 4 hours, turning it over about half way through so that it soaks up the flavor evenly. You can also let it sit all day but I wouldn't let it sit for more then say 10-12 hours as the lemon juice will actually "cook" the chicken.
To cook, preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until it's super hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Add a touch of oil to the skillet and place the chicken in, skin side down, quickly weighing it down with a couple of foil wrapped garden bricks, another cast iron skillet, or even the lid to a dutch oven like I did. You want something heavy to weigh it down so that the skin doesn't curl up and so the entire chicken is being cooked. Cook like this for about 10 minutes or until nicely golden. Flip over and sear for another 10 minutes before placing it in a preheated 400 degree oven to finish cooking. It should only take another 15-20 minutes depending on how big your bird is. Check doneness with a cooking thermometer. Internal temp should be about 165. Remove and set rest for 5-10 minutes for before cutting and serving. The bird cut nicely into 4 quarters when you've removed the bones right. Just cut it right down the middle, then lift up and cut off each leg. You're left with two leg sections and two breast/wing sections.

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