Traditionally, this dish has been tied up with Georgian cuisine, however, where we used to live (
this dish was on the menu of almost every eating establishment, large or small. Odessa, Ukraine
We most probably didn’t have all those aromatic spices that were growing on the slopes of the Georgian mountains, however we got the gist of it, i.e. the chicken needs to be pan-fried under heavy weight for the bird to be cooked through and also to achieve the maximum crispiness of the skin.
You might have heard about a recipe called “Chicken under the brick” which is an English interpretation of this quite unusual name, since “Tabaka” and tobacco has the same root.
However, the name is not that important since the final result is delicious juicy meat covered in crispy finger leaking skin.
Here is how I do it
1.5 kg free range corn fed chicken
Baking or sandwich paper
1 brick wrapped in foil
2 tbsp olive oil for frying
1 lime quartered to serve
1 tsp of fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
1 tsp of smoked paprika
For the marinade:
3 tbsp olive oil
5 tbs soy sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
5 garlic gloves peeled and crushed
3-5 kaffir lime leaves
Juice of half a lime
1 small red chili, lightly chopped, seeds removed
2 tsp coriander seeds, lightly fried and crushed
In order to get the maximum crispiness of the skin, you need first to spatchcock the chicken, in other words remove the backbone. It might sound a bit scary but it’s quite easy thing to do.
Place the bird breast on a chopping board breast side down. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, starting at the neck, run it all along the bone on both sides all the way down. Discard the bone. Flip the chicken over and place the palm of your hand firmly over the breastbone until you hear a crack, which is exactly what you need. The chicken is now flat and ready for the next step. Rinse the cavity under cold water and pat dry.
Prepare the marinade by combining all of the ingredients in a big enough bowl to accommodate the chicken and check for seasoning. It is quite important that the marinade has strong taste as it needs to penetrate the meat but by all means adjust it to your liking. Submerge the bird in the marinade and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, turn the bird over to get it marinated evenly.
Remove the chicken from the fridge about half an hour before cooking. Take it out of the marinade, pat dry, rub with olive oil, paprika and fennel seeds.
Pre-heat the pan on medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once hot, gently lower the chicken skin side down, into the pan, tear off a piece of baking paper to loosely cover the pan so as to avoid splattering, cover it with a big flat plate or lid and place a brick wrapped in foil on top of it. Cook the chicken on high heat for about 10 minutes, then drop the temperature to medium- low and continue cooking for about 20 minutes.
Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and bring to the table for everyone to see. Slice at the table and serve with some lime wedges and Watermelon and Basil Salsa on the side.