Based on a traditional Italian recipe called pollo al mattone, chicken under a brick is just about the best way to get super-crispy skin on your bird.
- 1 whole fryer chicken, about 3 pounds
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
- 3 to 4 sprigs thyme leaves, leaves picked, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 2 bricks, wrapped in heavy foil
Remove first 2 wing joints, backbone, and breastbone from chicken (or have your butcher do this). Rinse chicken well and pat dry; place in a container just large enough to hold it, skin side down. Pour lemon juice over chicken and turn over completely to coat both sides.
Finely mince rosemary, thyme, and garlic together on a cutting board with the salt. Transfer to a small bowl or measuring cup and add paprika. Pour in olive oil and mix well. Pour half of mixture over chicken in container, rubbing it into meat. Turn chicken over, skin side up, and smear remaining herb mixture over and under the skin. Cover and refrigerate in marinade, skin side up, for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Remove chicken from refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking so it can come to room temperature.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over a high flame until hot; add a film of olive oil, put chicken in skin side down and immediately place 2 foil-covered bricks on top, pressing down to flatten the chicken. Let cook, undisturbed, until skin side is crispy (about 20 minutes) then remove bricks, turn chicken over, and replace bricks. Continue cooking on other side until meat in thigh is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more. To serve, cut into leg and breast portions.