Chicken under a brick
One of my favourite tricks when barbecuing a butterflied chicken is to weigh it down with a couple of foil-wrapped house bricks. Start with the skin-side down over a low-medium heat - the weight of the bricks ensures the maximum surface area of the skin is in contact with the cooking surface and results in a beautifully burnished crisp skin and juicy succulent flesh.
20 minutes plus marinating time prep.
1 hour cooking
- 1 free-range chicken, about 1.6kg
- 80 ml olive oil
- Juice of 2 lemons, plus extra wedges to serve
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To begin, you’ll need to butterfly the chicken.
- Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water, pat dry thoroughly with paper towel and place breast-side down on a chopping board.
- Cut down each side of the backbone with kitchen scissors (reserve the backbone to make stock if you like).
- Remove the rib cage and wishbone, then turn the chicken over, open out flat and press down firmly with the heel of your hand to flatten the chicken out.
- Combine oil, lemon juice, thyme and garlic in a container large enough to hold the butterflied chicken snugly in a flat layer, season generously with salt and pepper, then place the chicken in the marinade.
- Turn to coat well, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or as long as overnight), turning chicken occasionally in marinade.
- Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a barbecue or large heavy cast iron pan to low-medium heat.
- Wrap two house bricks in foil and place on barbecue while it’s heating – if you don’t have house bricks you could heat a cast iron pan instead.
- Drain chicken from marinade, place skin-side down on the barbecue and weight with the bricks (if you’re using a cast iron pan, place a layer of foil over the chicken before you place the pan on top).
- Cook for 15-20 minutes until a deep golden brown all over, remove bricks, turn chicken over, replace bricks and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked through – check by piercing the thighs with a skewer, the juices should run clear; if they have a pink tinge, return the chicken to the barbecue for 5-10 minutes and test again.
- Transfer to a tray, cover loosely with foil and rest for 10 minutes, then serve with lemon squeezed over.