I never order chicken at a restaurant. It’s not that I don’t like chicken but for some reason it feels too basic for the occasion of going to a restaurant. I know that sounds pretty ignorant but such is life. We all know chicken is so versatile because it can take on any flavour but that great quality is also its greatest downfall. The flavour of the chicken itself doesn’t do enough for me, it’s too passive, it’s not the flavour of the meat you rave about it is always the flavour of the seasoning.
This is a perfect example of never say never; for some reason when I went to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Lupa restaurant in New York for lunch a couple years ago I ordered the chicken special, which was Chicken Under a Brick. Maybe I ordered it because I thought what the hell is a brick doing on top of my chicken, but the rest is history as they say because the meal arrived at the table and you could smell the lemon and herbs that made you want to dig in. The chicken did not have pale anemia looking skin but it had a “I’ve-just-come-from-the-Caribbean” kind of glow with a crispy skin that was irresistible even for someone who ordinarily doesn’t eat chicken skin.
Needless to say I ate the whole thing and asked the waitress how do I get my chicken at home like this and she explained that traditional the chicken was cooked skin down under a brick but once I put any heavy weight on my chicken it would create the same effect. This technique results in a juicy, most tenderest chicken you’ve tasted, if there ever was one. It is fragrant with rosemary and garlic, finishing it off in the oven allows the garlic cloves to reach a level of sweetness that they become jewels of flavour under the skin. The first time I made it at home I served it with sautéed brussel sprouts and mangetout with a leak purée. Now as you can see from the pictures these were the days before I realised you weren’t supposed to fill the entire plate and that less is more. I didn’t know anything about taking pictures of food i.e. no flash, natural light, look at how the food fits into the entire frame, but this was long before I even thought of The Yummy Truth so I know you will forgive me.
Live, Love, Eat!
- 2 chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves
- cracked salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F or 205 degrees C.
- Trim the fat off your chicken and wash thoroughly.
- Pat the chicken dry and crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of your chef's knife to release the oils.
- Lift the chicken skin gently and place 3 cloves underneath each chicken's skin.
- Sprinkle half the oil then the rosemary and salt and pepper on each side.
- Put the chicken skin down in a sauté pan and put on a hob at medium-high heat.
- If you have a brick use it, otherwise place a piece of foil over the chicken and find the heaviest pot you own, fill it with water and press down onto the chicken. Leave it to cook for 7 minutes.
- Remove from the hob, turn the chicken over, cover with foil, wrap the pan handle in foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until the liquid from the chicken runs clear.