Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Marlow & Sons Brick Chicken
I thought I'd start off the new year with a recipe for a dish that's been one of my favorite restaurant meals for years. I've been meaning to make this thing for what seems like ages now, but never got around to it, mainly because of the need for two cast-iron pans, and then, once that was resolved, the fact that I was always a little nervous to ask the Whole Foods butchers to debone a chicken. Whole Foods is fantastic in so many ways, but for some reason, I always felt that I had to go to a classic, old butcher shop for this--one where wizened old men in blood-splattered aprons spent their days hacking apart whole animals with deadly-sharp, silver cleavers.
Well, I ran out of excuses last week once I stepped foot into Marlow & Daughters, the butcher shop owned by the same proprietors of Marlow & Sons, where the recipe for this delicious brick chicken dish originated. When I asked the guy behind the counter to halve the chicken and remove the backbone, ribcage, and thigh bones, he didn't even blink, expertly performing the surgery within minutes. I left with a plastic bag full of chicken and high hopes of finally being able to get my brick chicken fix without entering a different borough. I was not let down. Not only is this recipe almost ludicrously simple, it really works--something about the weight on top of the flattened chicken halves produces a particularly crisp skin and extra-juicy meat. It's almost like fried, without all the unhealthy side effects.
I served mine with some chopped Swiss chard tossed with equal parts sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil and laid right on top of the pan juices, but any sturdy green will do, including kale or mustard greens. My advice would be to make this immediately, old butcher shop or no old butcher shop. In retrospect, it was a silly reason for not attempting this sooner--especially considering all the quality brick-chicken-time wasted. Don't make the same mistake. xo
Marlow & Sons Brick Chicken
1 3–4 lb chicken, halved, backbone, ribcage, and thighbones removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 10" skillet over high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add the 2 chicken halves to skillet skin side down. Place another 10" skillet, right side up, on top of chicken and gently place a heavy brick or several soup cans in it (weight should be at least 20 pounds).
Reduce heat to medium-high and cook chicken until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 18 minutes. Remove the top skillet and weight, flip the chicken halves with tongs, and pour off excess fat.
Add the chicken broth and lemon juice and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chicken's thigh registers 160°, about 3 more minutes. Serve chicken with pan sauce.