Chicken Under a Brick with Lemon, Garlic, and Rosemary
Perfect chicken is a voyage with no destination. Incremental advances plots points along the way, but the "X" that marks the spot seems to move a step away with each new conquest. So it forever will be, my love for chicken will have me endlessly trying new recipes and techniques in search of something that may never be perfection, but be seemingly gets better each and every time, and that's good news for you Meatwavers. Today that lands us on this chicken under a brick with lemon, garlic, and rosemary.
Unless you've got a rotisserie, the best way to cook a whole chicken is butterflying it. By removing the backbone of the bird and flattening it out, you create a more or less level thickness, which allows the bird to cook evenly and quicker. As opposed to a full intact bird, this alleviates the stress of overcooking one portion of the chicken, while another may be undercooked.
Even with that insurance, I'm still an advocate of a secondary plan—brining. The process of letting a bird soak in a salt and sugar solution prior to cooking increases the moisture in the meat, leading to more probability that the final product will be juicy. For a bird in the three to four pound range like this one, only an hour brine is needed, which is not much time at all—turkeys can take 12 hours or more—and is totally worth it in my opinion.
While the chicken is brining, lets talk flavor. I often describe chicken as a blank slate, since the light flavor of its meat will take on almost anything introduced to it. That being said, I find the most successful birds to be ones where the chicken isn't masked, but rather enhanced and complimented. Lemon does this exceedingly well, giving the meat a touch of acidity that seemingly heightens the natural flavor of the chicken. For added compliments in this recipe, I whisked together a lemon, oil, rosemary, and garlic mixture to later be brushed on during cooking.
You can't talk about a quest for chicken perfection without mentioning the skin. When done right, chicken skin is one the earthly delights—thin and crackling, crisped in the chicken's own rendering fat for maximum flavor. On the grill, achieving great skin is a much trickier prospect than in a pan or on a spit. This is where the idea of the brick comes in. By placing a brick on the bird while over direct heat, the chicken is further flattened an put into even contact with the grate and fire, creating a well cooked skin.
Once the skin is browned, the bird is flipped, brushed with the garlic and lemon mixture, and finished over indirect heat. The gentle indirect heat brings the final temperature of the bird up more slowly, pretty much the same concept as roasting. I like this method for being able to better keep an eye on the internal temp and avoid overcooking.
When the bird hits 160 degrees in the breast, it's done. A final ten minutes rest to allow the juices to redistribute is all that's needed before it's time to dig in. This chicken bursted with a bright, fresh flavor. It's meat was juicy and had a slight tanginess, while the skin was semi-crisp, soaked with lemon and peppered with garlic and rosemary that made it the star of the show. It's not chicken perfection, but on the path to get there, this is pretty damn good.
Chicken Under a Brick with Lemon, Garlic, and Rosemary
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Inactive 1 Hour
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 2 Hours 15 Minutes
- For the Brine
- 2 quarts cold water
- 1/2 cup Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs, butterflied
- 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 brick, wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil
- To make the brine, whisk water, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Place chicken in brine, breast side down, and set in refrigerator for 1 hour.
- While chicken is brining, place garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle and work into a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in lemon juice, olive oil, and rosemary. Set aside.
- Remove chicken from brine, pat dry with paper towels. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, place brick directly over fire, cover gill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place chicken over hot side of grill, skin side down. Place brick on top of chicken and cook until skin browns and crisps, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove brick, flip chicken over, and move to cool side of grill. Brush chicken with garlic and rosemary mixture. Cover grill and let cook until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast, about 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.
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Bkhuna Elegant and simple. If you master this one recipe/technique, you always enjoy perfect chicken.
Chris That description of chicken - SPOT ON! I could not have said it any better. That is quite a passage, Josh.
Nick I've stopped brining mostly because I could never get a crisp skin on the bird. Trying a variation on this tonight - got my brick wrapped up already!
Lynn Can I cook this in an oven?
Since I don't own a mortar and pestle, what other variation can I do for this step?
chura chef hi i want to make same grilled chicken .i want to felling testy .