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There's a popular recipe for making a fast roasted chicken, namely "chicken under a brick." It involves taking a brick, wrapping it in foil, and using it to press down on your chicken when you cook it in the oven at high heat. This is a good way to get a well-cooked chicken, done really fast. However, why use a BRICK, when you probably already have something in your home that works just as well or even better? The odds are good that somewhere in your home, on a shelf or in a box, there's a cast iron sad iron from the 1800s, which was either handed down from your great-grandparents or purchased as a novelty item at a flea market or junk store. (The name "sad iron" uses the noun "sad" to mean "solid and heavy," cast from a single piece of metal. A sad iron is solid and not hollow, or made from separate pieces of metal fitted and fastened together.) These things can be found everywhere, at flea markets and yard sales and antique stores, and they're usually used as doorstops or paperweights. But here we have a new use for this iron, in the kitchen. This is a twist on "chicken under a brick" that works even better, because it involves two secret weapons. And those weapons are not one, but two, cast iron skillets.
Pans needed: Two large cast iron skillets. The second skillet doesn't have to be the same size as the first one, but it should be large enough to cover most of the chicken when placed on top.
You can use any chicken parts you want for this dish, or even a whole chicken. However, because we're putting a flat heavy weight on top of the chicken, it needs to be spread out over the surface area of the pan. This will help to bring as much surface area as possible into contact with the blazing hot metal of the pan, to sear the chicken and cook it in a very short period of time. Most recipes for chicken under a brick use a whole chicken, prepared by spatchcocking or butterflying the bird. Go ahead and do this to your chicken, and the result will be a crisp and tender chicken. Or, you can take the quick, easy, and cheap method (which is great for family cooking) and use a package of prepared chicken pieces.
The chicken must be thawed out before preparing the dish, but it doesn't have to be brought to room temperature. Keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to prepare it.
|A note on preparing raw chicken: no, you don't have to wash off raw chicken before cooking. Washing off the chicken does not kill bacteria, and in fact it spreads the bacteria all around the area of your sink and your kitchen. It's safer to simply keep the chicken in the refrigerator at a temperature of under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, until it's time to prepare the chicken. Blasting the chicken in the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit will be certain to pasteurize it, and kill any dangerous bacteria that may be present.|
The steps for preparing the chicken are fast and simple: