Ok, let’s be honest here. This recipe and post really only exist for one reason, and that reason is the word spatchcocking. I think it’s a pretty awesome word…it just rolls of the tongue in a fun way. Spatchcocking. Say it. Love it. Moving on….spatchcocking is the method of flattening out a whole chicken. It’s surprisingly simple, and absolutely necessary for this recipe (or for any brick chicken recipe for that matter). All you need is one small chicken (mine was 3.5 pounds) and heavy kitchen shears. Latex gloves are handy as well if you have them, but in no way necessary. So here we go, lay your little chicken out on a plastic cutting board breast side down and with your kitchen shears cut down the back of the chicken along both sides of the back bone. Remove the back bone and then press down hard on each wing at the same time to crack the breast bone of the chicken. If you’re like me and don’t have a ton of arm or hand strength you can make a nick with a heavy knife at each joint of the breast bone to help out here. Voila. Before you is a professionally spatchcocked chicken, bravo! You should also cut off the tips of the wings since they will most likely burn, but I’ve also seen recipes in which people tuck the wing tips under the back side of the bird. Whatever you prefer is fine with me. Make sure you rinse your chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels before using. If you want to see it done, here is a handy step-by-step guide to spatchcocking (with pictures of course!) http://homecooking.about.com/od/poultry/ss/how-to-spatchcock-chicken-step-by-step.htm
Now onto this brick chicken thing (also known as chicken under a brick) it is basically exactly what is says. You literally cook your chicken under a brick. Literally. The cool thing is that you can use a couple of things you might have laying around, the most popular being two old fashioned red bricks wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil or a heavy skillet weighed down with beans or cans. If you go the skillet route, just be sure that it is slightly smaller than the skillet you cook your chicken in. Brick chicken is a wonderful thing and produces some of the best crispy chicken skin you can ever imagine. If that’s not enough to convince you that you should give it a go, then there may be no help for you. Crispy skin is the business. Enough said.
So here it is, Lemon Curry Brick Chicken with Spicy Kale and Curry Mashed Potatoes
Lemon Curry Brick Chicken
one 3.5 pound chicken, spatchcocked (see above)
1 tablespoon butter
zest of one lemon
3 whole garlic cloves
4 green peppercorns (black would be fine if you don’t have green)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon olive oil
juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons salt (can adjust to taste)
1 medium shallot
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
juice of 1 small lemon or half of a large lemon
Lemon Curry Brick Chicken
We will start with the marinade for the chicken, which is a really great paste that gets rubbed all over your bird. Now, whenever I get the opportunity to use my mortar and pestle, I take it! So I threw all of my marinade ingredients into said device and mashed it all up until I had a pretty consistent paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle (though you should) then you can use a food processor or just mince everything up nice and small and mix it all together. Rub your paste all over the bird, back and front, and let marinade for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook; heat a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat with olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once it comes to temperature add your bird SKIN SIDE DOWN and then use your weighing method of choice and place on top of the bird. Drop the heat to medium low and don’t touch anything for 20 minutes. I know, it’s really, really, hard to not check the skin or the bird, but trust me. DON’T TOUCH. While the bird is cooking preheat the oven to 375⁰. After your bird has been going on the stovetop for 20 minutes remove your bricks (or whatever you’re using) and carefully flip the bird over (the goal is to not crack the skin). Once it is flipped over and shining in its golden brown glory, place in the oven for 15-20 minutes so it can finish cooking. **please note that your bird is not being weighted down while in the oven, I say this because if you used cans to weigh your bird down earlier, under no circumstances should you ever put cans in the oven, ever!
When your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165⁰ remove from the skillet and cover with tin foil to let rest. Meanwhile remove any fat from the pan, minus one tablespoon. Place on a medium heat and add your shallots, sauté for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, then add the stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 10 minutes.
Chicken is done. Admire the beauty that it is. Portion it out (I like to separate the wing from the breast, but leave the thigh and leg attached to eachother) and finish with the lemon and wine reduction. Good job.
Spicy Kale and Curry Mashed Potatoes
Onto the sides. You can really pair the chicken with whatever you like, but here are the recipes for the curry mashed potatoes and spicy kale. If it was warmer outside this would go great with a light arugula salad and maybe some grilled vegetables. It was a gloomy day for us, so the mashed potatoes and kale were perfect.
1 bunch Tuscan kale, heavy stem removed and leafs chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes over low heat for at least 10 minutes so that the oil can really become infused with the red pepper. When ready to cook the kale bring the oil up to a medium heat and add the kale and some salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 5-10 minutes. I really love my kale fairly broken down so I take it a full 10 minutes, but either way will be fine. Taste for seasoning and your good to go.
Curry Mashed Potatoes
1 ½ pounds Dutch yellow baby potatoes
1 whole head roasted garlic*
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt & pepper
I put curry in here because I felt it tied into the chicken really well and was a cool spin on a regular mash (and the curry powder was just sitting on the counter looking at me, begging to go in). That being said it is totally optional, and this is a really great, basic, roast garlic mashed potato recipe that you can use for many other dishes.
So, place potatoes in a large pot (mine were small enough that I just boiled them whole with the skin on) and cover with COLD water. Bring to a boil and add a healthy amount of salt to the water. Boil until you can easily pierce through the potatoes with a knife or fork. Strain and then add the potatoes back into the hot pot and turn the heat to low. This is important because you really want any extra liquid to evaporate, the absolute best way to avoid runny potatoes. Start mashing and add the salt, pepper, curry powder and roast garlic. Once all the garlic and spices are mashed up well add the butter, sour cream, thyme and milk. Stir it all in until you are happy with consistency. Serve and enjoy.
*Quick note on roast garlic, I use it a lot, a little obsessed I know. If you don’t know how to make it, it is super simple. Preheat the oven to 350⁰, cut the top off of a whole head of garlic so that the tips of all the cloves are exposed. Place on a sheet of tin foil, add a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap up in the foil and throw in the oven for an hour. Take it out and cool. All of the garlic goodness should be so soft that all you need to do is squeeze it out. Done.
To serve it all up portion out some kale and potatoes on each side of the plate and lay a portion of the glorious chicken on top. Spoon some of the lemony reduction over the top of everything and bask in the curry warmth. Feel the transportation to some far off dreamy land that exists in the back of your memory, a place with Moroccan lanterns where you sit on the floor in the comfort of silk pillows and eat like a queen (or king). Enjoy.