Flattened Chicken Thighs With Roasted Lemon Slices
An easy, superfragrant weeknight version of classic chicken under a brick, this recipe uses chicken thighs instead of a butterflied whole bird. Lavish quantities of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs season the flesh, and the skin gets shatteringly crisp and salty. This recipe makes great use of a cast-iron skillet (or two) and is a great dish to cook when seasoning a new pan because of the large amount of fat that melts into the pan. (You pour it off before serving.) If you have a pan that is large enough to fit all the thighs, you can cook them in one batch.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 2lemons, rinsed
- ¼cup fresh thyme or oregano leaves
- 1 ½tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 ½tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 10to 12 medium or large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1teaspoon red chile flakes
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 9bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, rinsed in cold water
- 18fresh sage leaves
- 3to 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (to yield 18 slices)
- 1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2lemons, rinsed
- Fresh thyme or oregano sprigs, for garnish
Step 1Make the marinade: Use a vegetable peeler to shave 9 large strips of peel from the lemons, taking care to cut into only the brightest yellow outer layer. Put strips in a large bowl or container and add thyme or oregano, sage, parsley, garlic, red chile flakes and olive oil.
Step 2Prepare the chicken: Pat each piece dry with paper towels. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin of each piece from the flesh, taking care to leave the skin attached at one end, to create a deep pocket between the skin and the flesh. Tuck 2 sage leaves and 2 garlic slices under the skin. Put the thigh in the bowl with the marinade and repeat with remaining thighs, sage and garlic. Turn the thighs gently to coat with the marinade. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3When ready to cook, remove thighs from marinade and place them skin side up on a baking sheet. (Reserve garlic cloves and lemon peel from the marinade; discard the liquid.) Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over the chicken, then turn over and sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons salt.
Step 4Transfer 5 chicken thighs, skin side down, to a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Put it over high heat and weigh down the chicken with the bottom of another cast-iron skillet. (Or, use a lighter skillet weighed down with a large full can, a brick or another heavy object. Make sure the bottom of the skillet is clean, or place a sheet of parchment paper between the chicken and the top skillet.)
Step 5Once chicken is sizzling loudly, reduce heat to medium and cook without moving for 10 to 12 minutes, until skin is brown and crisp. To check for doneness, gently lift the corner of a chicken thigh with a metal spatula. The skin will come away cleanly from the bottom of the pan when it is done. If it is still stuck, do not pull but let it cook a little longer.
Step 6When thighs are done, remove the weight and lift the chicken out of the pan, taking care to keep the skin attached to the thighs as you lift them. Transfer the thighs, skin side up, to a clean baking sheet or plate. Cook the remaining 4 chicken thighs in the same way. Pour off most of the fat from the skillet.
Step 7Meanwhile, heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut lemons in half and squeeze gently to remove some of the juice. Cut crosswise into 1/8-inch slices and lay on paper towels to absorb more juice.
Step 8Place a layer of lemon slices in the skillet. Return all the browned chicken to the skillet on top of the lemons, skin side up. Tuck reserved lemon peel and garlic cloves down between the pieces.
Step 9Transfer skillet to oven for 20 to 30 minutes. To test, remove a thigh, pierce it on the flesh side with a knife, and check that the juices are clear and there is no redness near the bone. Remove pan from oven and let thighs rest in the pan 5 to 10 minutes. Tuck thyme or oregano sprigs around the thighs and serve from the pan at the table, with roasted lemon slices and garlic cloves.