Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chicken Under a "Brick" with Lemon and Thyme

Chicken. Seems ho hum, right? But oh my friend you would not say such things if you've tried this recipe.  It's got crispy skin.  It's got lemony thyme flavor.  And it's got....POTATOOOEEESS! Yes, we are pleased.

I've made this recipe a few times and my main advice is to use a small chicken.  The chicken we used this time was a meager 2.75 lbs, but I tell ya, it was the perfect size. You have to be fitting this sucker into a skillet and flipping it at some point, and I had some major problems with the 4 lb chicken I once used, although 4 lbs is definitely doable.  If your manual dexterity skills reside at a higher level than mine, which they probably do, then go for the 4 if that's the smallest size you can get.

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated and My Husband Cooks.


Lemon and Thyme seasoning
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 2 to 3 TBS)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TBS thyme leaves, chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Chicken and potatoes
  • 1 whole chicken, anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 lbs (though I recommend the lower end), butterflied (either courtesy of you or your butcher)
  • 1 1/2 lbs new potatoes, halved/quartered into 1-inch pieces (you can also use fingerling potatoes)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Prepare the lemon thyme seasoning. You don't have to do this first, but I did, because butterflying the chicken by myself was daunting and I was putting if off as long as possible.

Chop/mince your shallot, garlic, and thyme. Them mix all ingredients together into a chunky marinade/sauce.

It may not be glamorous, but this is the stuff of heaven.

Now turn to your chicken.  Pat your clucker dry.  For butterflying your chicken, I highly highly recommend a pair of poultry shears.  Without them, I'm sure I would have had bits of raw chicken flung all over the apartment.

My Husband Cooks has good instructions on butterflying a chicken and you can find plenty of resources online, so I'll just summarize.

  1. Place chicken on cutting board, breast side down.
  2. Cut out the backbone by snipping closely along each side of the backbone.
  3. Flip chicken back over, spreading chicken.  Press HARD on breastbone--you may hear cracking.  Revel in the violence.
  4. Cut off the tips of the wings.
  5. If you want, place a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken and pound the chicken to even that sucker out, but I didn't. I just smooshed it extra hard to get it as flat as possible.
And you end up with this.

I know you're all salivating and can't wait to bite into that raw chicken, but just you wait. Season your chicken with salt and pepper. 

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat, until shimmering.  Place chicken in skillet, skin side down.

See, I told you there would be more salivating. I mean wow, who wouldn't find this appetizing.  Chicken, thank you so much for your sacrifice, I want you to know that I ate you with love, respect and mucho gusto.

In order to maximize skin crispiness, place a heavy object (a pot works well) on top of the chicken and fill it with canned food (I put a barrier of foil wrap betwixt the chicken and pot.

While the chicken cooks, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  After about 20 minutes, you'll get a beautiful crust on the chicken skin.  Which, if you're like me, you'll maul a bit with a spatula as you're impatiently trying to scrape the chicken from the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate/baking sheet, skin side up.  Pour off chicken fat, leaving a few tsp.

See the bald spot on the thigh towards the bottom left of the picture?  It is my life's shame.

Mix the potatoes with 2/3 of the lemon-thyme mixture.  Place the potatoes in the skillet.

Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the potatoes.  

Drizzle the remaining 1/3 of the lemon-thyme mixture over the chicken.  Cook about 30 to 45 minutes, until the chicken reaches about 160 to 165 degrees internally.  Alternately, like me, repeated take out chicken, take a paring knife, press down on chicken.  If juices run clear, it's done. If the juices are pink, stick it back in the oven.  Be incorrect and doubt yourself multiple times so that you swear not to make chicken again.

When chicken is done, remove to cutting board.

The recipe says to turn on the broiler and crisp the potatoes, but mine were pretty well done so I skipped that step.

As you guys know, at this point in my recipes I'm f&*#g hungry and don't really have the patience for photos.  So here is the chicken, which doesn't look like a chicken, completely sans delicious potatoes, with romaine dressed with lemon and olive oil.
Really? That's the best I can do?

Don't be discouraged by this disappointing picture. The chicken was awesome and so were the potatoes.



  1. You said clucker. Lol. That chicken looks super tasty w/that crispy skin.

  2. I'm ashamed to admit that I rarely cook chicken outside of in a soup or as a sad, limp breast. I MUST try this recipe!!!

  3. Yeeeeeeees, me likey. Especially the skin!

  4. nothing better than crispy chicken and schmaltzy potatoes!

  5. Hmmm...I'm still waiting for my dinner invite. :) I'm glad you're blogging again. :)

  6. 'Be incorrect and doubt yourself' -- silly pug. you are kitchen goddess.

  7. when can I come over for dinner again? I'm hungry. :)

  8. This recipe's on the docket for this week! I'm only doing skin on chicken breast because I'm sad and lame. Woh woh wohhhhh. Thank you again for the recipe!