Stuffed Chicken Under a Brick
- 1 large brick (2 pounds or more), wrapped with foil, or a heavy pan weighted with dried beans
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup regular or whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- A couple handfuls of toasted hazelnuts
- 2 cups watercress, upland cress or arugula
- A few grates of nutmeg
- A couple small handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- A small handful of thyme (5-6 small sprigs), leaves stripped
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus a couple of tablespoons
- Salt and pepper
- 1 4-pound whole chicken (ask the butcher to remove the backbone)
Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and toast to golden. Remove from the heat and let cool in the bowl of a food processor.
Once cool, add the hazelnuts and pulse to finely chop the nuts; combine with the breadcrumbs. Add the cress or arugula and season with nutmeg. Add the Parmigiano Reggiano, thyme, lemon zest and about 1/3 cup EVOO to the food processor (count to 6 while pouring it in a slow stream).
Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet or other large, heavy, ovenproof pan over medium-high heat.
Loosen the skin of the chicken over the breast meat, thighs and legs and stuff with the breadcrumb mixture – be careful not to rip the skin. Season the chicken liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.
When the cast iron pan is hot and water splashed on its surface dances, add a couple tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan. When the EVOO smokes, about 30 seconds, add the chicken, skin-side down, and weigh it down with the brick or another heavy pan weighted with dried beans. Brown for 5-6 minutes, then transfer to the oven and roast for 12-15 minutes. Flip the chicken and roast for 20 minutes more, uncovered and skin-side up.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes; douse with lemon juice. Carve and serve alone with crusty bread or with Rice Pilaf and Roasted Onions.