If you ever had a perfect roast chicken in a restaurant and wondered how are they able to make it taste so darn delicious, it is likely that it was roasting skin side down weighted under a brick. This technique magically makes the chicken juicy, moist and tender, with a beautiful crispy skin and the most spectacular jus (pan dripping). Full disclosure: you don't actually need a brick to make this. A heavy cast iron skillet will do just fine. If you do have a brick in hand, cover it in two layers of tinfoil and you are good to go!
I like making it on a sheet pan that i can place on top of the stove to get really hot (make sure not to touch the pan with your bare hands). I place the butterflied (spatchcock) chicken skin side down, and place a second sheet pan (covered in foil) on top of the chicken, and place my heavy cast iron skillet (or brick) on top of the sheet pan. A few minutes is all it takes for the chicken to develop a good char, and in the oven it goes for about 1 hour.
1 whole chicken, butterflied
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 head garlic, halved
2 lemons, sliced into thin rings
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 420F (215C)
1. Prep the chicken: You will need poultry shears, or heavy duty scissors for this.
Place the whole chicken breast side down on a clean surface. with the shears cut along the back bone, one side at a time, cutting through the ribs as you go. Remove the bone (I like to throw it into a ziplock bag and freeze it for when i'm making a delicious chicken broth)
Open the chicken out and turn over. Flatten the breastbone with the heel of your hand, so that the meat is all one thickness. With a paper towel, pat the chicken dry, Turn over so the breast side is facing you.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the grated garlic with the olive oil, 2 tsp of salt, a generous amount of fresh black pepper and some of the herbs.
3. Insert your fingers to separate the skin from the breast and thighs, and rub some of the garlic and oil mixture under the skin. Rub more of the mix over the skin, so it is well coated in oil.
4. Place the chicken breast side down on your sheet pan.
5. Place the lemon rings and garlic head around the chicken, but not under.
6. Rub the remaining garlic and oil over the chicken, and place the remaining lemon rings on top. add the fresh herbs to the pan
7. Place the sheet pan over the stove on high heat, and place the second sheet pan over the chicken, with the cast iron skillet or brick weighing it down. Leave for a few minutes, so the chicken skin develops a good char, than carefully remove from the stove and place in the hot oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.
8. After 35-40 minutes, carefully remove the cast iron skillet or brick and the sheet pan, and very carefully remove the chicken from the oven (watch not to spill the drippings)
9. Using tongs and a large spatula, turn over the chicken so it is breast side up. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, to allow the chicken to cook through and for the skin to brown and crisp up.
10. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate, along with the lemons and garlic. Strain the pan drippings to a gravy bowl and season to taste.