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Crispy Chicken under a Brick (Tsitsila Tabaka)
2 hours (50 minutes active)
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For this recipe, we find inspiration in Georgia, set at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia and known for dishes that benefit from both cuisines. The chicken is spatchcocked, which puts thighs and breasts on the same plane for even cooking. Georgian cooks use a brick to keep their chickens truly flat (you’ll find the same technique in Italy’s pollo al mattone). The weight presses the chicken down, ensuring the bird makes full contact with the pan’s hot surface, which renders the fat and ensures even browning. If crisp skin is what you’re after, this is the way to get it. For the “brick,” we use a second heavy skillet or a large, sturdy pot (such as a Dutch oven); it’s easier and works just as well. However, if you have them on hand, you instead could use one or two clean bricks wrapped in heavy-duty foil. An easy pan sauce with garlic, lemon and cilantro perfectly complements the chicken.
Don’t use a chicken much larger than 4 pounds, as it may not fit comfortably in the skillet. Don't forget to pat the chicken dry before searing. The drier the skin, the better it crisps. After searing, make sure to drain the fat in the pan before putting the bird in the oven; this reduces splatter. Finally, don't forget that the skillet's handle will be hot after being in the oven.
(50 minutes active)
teaspoons ground coriander
teaspoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- to 4-pound whole chicken
tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
tablespoons salted butter
medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
cups low-sodium chicken broth
to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
tablespoons lemon juice
cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
01In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, granulated garlic, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, end to end. Remove and discard the backbone (or save it to make broth). Spread open the chicken, then turn it breast up. Use the heel of your hand to press down firmly on the thickest part of the breast, until the wishbone snaps. Season all over with the spice mixture, rubbing it into the skin. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
02Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the lowest position. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Place the chicken breast down in the pan. Lay a small sheet of foil over the chicken, then place a second heavy skillet or pot on top. Reduce to medium and cook until the skin is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, removing the weight and foil and checking every 4 to 5 minutes to ensure even browning.
03Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a large plate, turning it breast up. Pour off and discard the fat in the skillet. Slide the chicken breast up back into the pan and place in the oven. Roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160°F, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest while you make the sauce.
04Set the skillet (the handle will be hot) over medium-high and cook the butter and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then cook until the garlic is softened and the mixture is lightly thickened and reduced to about ¾ cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, mash the garlic until almost smooth and mix it into the sauce. Off heat, stir in the cayenne, lemon juice and cilantro, then transfer to a serving bowl. Carve, then serve with the sauce.
I made this tonight for dinner and it was a big hit. The chicken stayed moist and was very evenly cooked. I didn’t have a large enough skillet for my chicken so used a roasting pan instead, and it worked just fine. The oven cooking time took a bit longer than the recipe suggested, but that is what an oven probe thermometer is for. Will definitely be making this again.
Fabulous. One of our favorite chicken dishes. Would anyone know what the traditional side dishes would be?
Hi Mary -
Here are a few Milk Street recipes that would make great sides to the Georgian chicken:
Kidney Bean Salad with Spiced Vinaigrette and Herbs - https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/spiced-vinaigrette-kidney-bean-salad
Green Beans with Georgian Mint-Chile Sauce - https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/green-beans-with-georgian-mint-green-chili-relish
Persian Tomato Cucumber Salad - https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/traditional-persian-tomato-cucumber-salad-shirazi
Armenian Grilled Potatoes - https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/armenian-grilled-potatoes
The Milk Street Team
It was easy to make and it was delicious. I will be making this again. Thank you for the recipe!