chicken under the skillet
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The classic version of this dish features a brick – a London brick ideally, handmade and used widely for (you’d never guess) building houses in the first half of the 20th century. So – basically you must live in a crumbling (in order to remove a brick) residence dating from pre-prefab.
The concept is genius and the taste fantastic. Super crispy skin, reduced almost to scratchings, maximised flavour of whatever you marinated the chicken in and the add-ons stuffed under the skin (prosciutto, cheese, herbs) completely melted into the succulent chicken meat. Some problems though, which might be insurmountable to many:
a/ a really big pan
b/ deboning the bird (yes, seriously)
c/ making sure it’s cooked through (that’s our famous phobia of uncooked chicken)
d/ getting hold of the damn brick!
So I’m doing everyone a favour here by presenting the dumbed-down version. Just chicken thighs – you can do breasts but they are thicker – see c/. They often come de-boned – b/ ticked off. They’ll fit in a normal sized pan and can be cooked in batches if you want loads of them - cheerio, a/! And by using a skillet to weigh down the chicken thighs, I obtained the solution to how to keep your house intact and a cool dish name.
- 2-4 chicken thighs (to serve 2), deboned but with skin on
- 1-2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- ½ a spicy chorizo ring
- salt and smoked paprika for seasoning
- 3 large tomatoes
- a handful of sage leaves
If you have bone-in chicken thighs, don’t panic: it’s not terribly difficult to remove the bones. Place a thigh skin down on a board and make an incision along the bone with a sharp knife. Using the tip of the knife and short shallow strokes, expose the bone along its length. Work your way around the both ends of the bone, making sure you cut out the socket around its ball; it needn’t be very tidy. Slide the knife underneath the bone and release it. Do the same with the remaining thigh.
Slice the garlic cloves quite thinly on a diagonal, if the cloves are small. Slice the chorizo into 2mm thick rings; you’ll want about 4 slices per one thigh.
Slide your finger under the skin of each thigh, making a pocket. Push about 6 slices of garlic and 4 chorizo rings evenly distributed under the skin of each piece. Season them with salt and smoked paprika on both sides.
Skin the tomatoes by scoring the tops crosswise and plunging them into boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain and peel the skin off. Slice each tomato horizontally quite thickly to get about six slices for each piece of chicken. Remove some of the seeds and juice from the slices. Sprinkle them with salt and place on paper towels for a few minutes to drain the liquid.
Prepare two heavy frying pans or cast iron skillets (the one for the cooking also oven-safe). If the bottom of the pan that’s going to weigh the chicken down is not too clean, use a disc of parchment paper to cover the bottom. Place the chicken skin side down in one skillet and put it over high heat. Preheat the other skillet (this is optional; reduces the time in the oven) and place it (with or without parchment) over the chicken pressing it down.
When the chicken starts to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium. Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes without moving until the skin is brown and crispy. In the meantime preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.
Lift the chicken from the skillet and turn off the heat. Place the tomato slices in the skillet, sprinkle the sage leaves over the tomatoes and place the chicken thighs skin side up on top of the tomatoes.
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and rest for another 10 minutes before serving.