O.M.G. Chicken Under A (mother frickin) Bricken aka THE BEST CHICKEN YOU’LL EVER EAT. For. REAL. (No, seriously.) This dish has been a few years in the making. Not because I’ve been working on the recipe, and more because I kinda just forgot about it.
A few years ago, when my brother and sister-in-law still lived in the city, we went to this place called Perry’s in the Adams Morgan quarter of DC. They had rooftop dining with the deck covered in a canopy of white string lights – my favorite. Our corner table overlooked the entire city at sunset and I remember thinking “what a perfect little place to eat on a summer night.”
There’s a running joke in our family that since we’re half-Asian, we tend to look down upon the, shall we say, “culturally-lacking folk” (aka white people) and their simpler palates… Our envisioned stereotype is pretty much my boyfriend James in a nutshell: Hates all spicy foods and loves all-American foods (pizza, meatloaf, tacos – and chicken breast.) Beef vs. chicken? Chicken. Every. Time. Weird-textured or funky-smelling food? Hell. Motherfricking. No. To say he has a severely unadventurous palate is an understatement, but, every year he expands his infantile tastebuds a little more and I’m proud of him for that. (love you, booboo) The man had never even tried sushi 8+ years ago! And, even though he always orders the surf & turf while out to eat, we still like to bust his chops and say “James, oh no! What are you gonna eat?! There’s no chicken on the menu!!” Poor guy hasn’t even ordered chicken in years.
So, when my brother, and his über-refined palate (that’s a joke, btw), ordered chicken-under-a-brick at Perry’s DC… I knew it had to be good. Like, REALLY good. He told me it was the best chicken he’d ever had and I believed him. I mean… one does not typically go to a hip & pricey DC joint to order chicken. It stuck in my mind for YEARS that one day I would make The Best Chicken I’ve Ever Made using a whole chicken, an iron skillet, and one brick. That day has come. This Chicken-Under-A-Brick is the ULTIMATE one-skillet-wonder.
I wouldn’t have even thought to make it had James not gone slightly psychotic and taken a chainsaw to our entire backyard. He cut down so many trees and shrubs, our backyard space has doubled, and our brick-acquisition is through the roof. We dug up SO MANY BRICKS, that this chicken was inevitable. Why so many bricks were buried in our backyard, I have no idea… Pretty sure we unearthed a postmodern Egyptian tomb. Or a 1970’s vegetable garden. Either/or.
After washing all the crud and mud off, le brick was ready to party! Wrapped in foil and ready to drop it like it’s hot. (literally!) Woop woop! This chicken is soooo freaking moist and flavorful, I was absolutely shocked. I thought using only 1 teaspoon of salt per half was going to be a bit bland, but, it was AMAZING. At only 5 ingredients or less, I can promise you this will become part of your dinner repertoire. It truly is The Best Chicken You’ll Ever Eat.
- 1 whole chicken (3-5 lbs)
- 4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided (1T for skillet, 1T for spice-rub)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp fresh packed thyme
- 1/2 tbsp fresh packed rosemary (dried herbs work, too - just reduce amounts by half.)
- 1/2 large lemon, quartered
- Preheat oven to 450F, wrap a clean brick in foil, and grab a good pair of kitchen shears.
- Place whole chicken on a cutting board, breast side up, and remove the innards bag from the cavity.
- Grab the bottom of the chicken and using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone from the tail up to the neck. (I used a knife just to show where. Scissors will work best.)
- After completely removing the backbone - freeze it in a ziploc bag to make chicken stock with or discard with fat trimmings.
- Now you have a spineless chicken. (ehehehe.)
- Spineless like a jellyfish! Now, press down on the top of the chicken to flatten and break the breast bone.
- Grab your kitchen shears again and cut right down the middle of the breast. You have now officially split a chicken.
- Flip the halves over so they're skin-side up & ready to season and mix all remaining ingredients, except lemon and 1 tbsp olive oil, in a small bowl to make a paste.
- Split the paste between both halves and evenly rub the herb-oil paste all under the skin of the chicken. (You can see the dark green herbs stuffed under the skin.)
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in an iron skillet over med high heat. Place seasoned chicken halves, skin side down & facing opposite directions, in the skillet and firmly press the foil-wrapped brick on top.
- Cook over med high heat for 10 mins, then, transfer to preheated oven. Roast for 15 mins.
- Remove from oven. Remove brick and flip both chicken halves so they're skin-side up. Grab lemon quarters - add 2 lemon wedges to the pan and place one on top of each chicken half.
- Roast for another 10-15 mins, skin-side up, until internal temp reaches 160-165, and Behold: The Best Chicken You'll Ever Eat!