Start to finish: 2 hours (50 minutes active) / Servings: 4
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 traditions. 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 good 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 (after it has stood for 45 minutes). The drier the skin, the better it crisps. After searing, drain off the fat in the pan before putting the bird in the oven; this helps reduce splatter. Finally, don’t forget that the skillet’s handle will be hot when taken out of oven.
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3½- to 4-pound whole chicken, spatchcocked (see instructions, here )
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
1. In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the spatchcocked chicken, skin-side up, on a cutting board. Season the chicken all over with the spice mixture, rubbing it into the skin. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the lowest position. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
3. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely 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.
4. Using 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.
5. Set 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.