Flattened chicken with lemon and thyme salt
Cooking a whole chicken under a weight produces a succulent bird with a uniformly golden skin, it also takes less time than roasting it. You will need a frying pan at least 30cm diameter and a weight of 3-4kg. I use a large pestle and mortar, but a stone, brick or any heavy object will do.
Serve with roast potatoes and a runner bean & green bean salad.
This recipe originally appeared in House & Garden magazine, photo courtesy of Helen Cathcart
1.75kg orgainic, free-range chicken
1 unwaxed lemon
10g fresh thyme, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
Flaked sea salt
2tbsp olive oil
- Lay the chicken breast-side down on a board with the legs facing you. With scissors, cut along both sides of the backbone through the ribs to release it (save the bone for stock). Turn the bird over and press down hard on the breast to flatten it. Choose a frying pan large enough to fit the flattened bird in it and another pan a bit smaller to place on top.
- Grate the zest from the lemon into a bowl, then squeeze in 1tbsp of the juice. Add the thyme with the garlic and 1tbsp flaked sea salt. Mix well.
- Lay the bird skin-side up on a board and gently prise away the skin from the flesh at the top of the breasts and around the thighs. Using your fingers, push 1tsp at a time of the mixture under the skin, massaging to spread it around. Rub the rest of the mixture into the underside of the bird.
- Heat the oil in the large frying pan until sizzling hot. Lay the chicken skin-side down and reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the smaller pan on top and press down firmly, placing the weight on top of the pan for extra pressure. Cook like this for 30 minutes, remove the weight and check the bird is not getting too brown. Reduce the heat if necessary. Continue cooking, skin-side down for up to another 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. When the bird is nearly cooked, turn it over to brown the underside for a few minutes.
- Remove the chicken to a warm place to rest for 15 minutes before carving. I like to sauté thinly sliced potatoes in the remaining chicken fat in the pan. Alternatively, you can pour off the excess fat and add a splash of wine and boil it for a second to make light gravy.
You will need a frying pan at least 30cm in diameter and a weight of 3-4kg – I use a large pestle and mortar, but a stone, a brick or any heavy object will do.