Don't be surprised if you find yourself reaching for bone-in, skin-on thighs every shopping trip from here on out.

By Sara Tane
February 01, 2021

Everybody knows that the single greatest pleasure of sinking your teeth into a juicy piece of chicken is the crispy skin. In a world where bone-in, skin-on chicken exists, you have to wonder why folks would ever waste their time with boneless, skinless, right?! Good, crispy chicken skin should be so crunchy that you can hear someone bite into it from the next room. The unexpected tool that's going to give you some ear-shatteringly delicious crispy skin? A BRICK.

How on earth does the building block of construction have any place in a kitchen? Well, bricks are a relatively small item for the weight that they offer, making them a great tool to press down on your chicken. Not to mention, they can easily withstand extremely high heats, making them safe to use inside a grill or oven. A classic "chicken-under-a-brick" typically calls for a whole, spatchcocked chicken, but you can definitely skip the whole bird and opt for some bone-in, skin-on thighs, instead. The pressure that the brick applied to the chicken makes for a crazy crunchy chicken skin that's hard to achieve without the added weight.

There's a few important things to note before you're ready for your first thighs-under-a-brick experience. First, you need to prepare the bricks by wrapping them in aluminum foil — there's nothing that will ruin crispy skin like shards of clay in your dish. Second thing to note is that there are alternatives to a brick (but a brick is obviously the best because you can brag to your unsuspecting dinner guests that you used a brick to assist you in preparing the meal). Anything heavy, like a cast iron skillet, a skillet with a barbell inside of it, or a terra cotta mattone will all be sufficient in applying pressure to the chicken while it cooks. The bricks are also nice because they can apply even pressure to 1-2 thighs at a time, and you don't have to worry about scuffing up any other skillets in the process.

crispy skillet chicken thighs
Credit: Getty Images / Tom McCorkle, Bonnie S. Benwick, The Washington Post

For the crispiest-skin-of-your-life chicken thighs, start by seasoning all sides of the thighs with salt and pepper. Generously oil a cast-iron skillet and nestle the thighs in the pan, skin side down. Throw in some herbs, garlic cloves, shallots, or maybe some lemon slices to amp up the flavor. Place your aluminum foil-wrapped bricks over the thighs, and then transfer the cast iron to medium-high heat on your stove or a grill. You want to cook the thighs until the skin on the bottom is golden brown and crispy and the interior is fully cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. If you notice that the skin is darkening in color very quickly, reduce your flame to medium heat. 

Once your chicken is cooked, carefully remove the bricks (they might be greasy), and turn the chicken thighs over to quickly cook the flesh side. You can even throw a knob of butter into the pan and finish up the thighs by basting them in a buttery shower. Serve the chicken with an herby salsa, over a bed of rice, or with a side of roasted potatoes. Make sure you give the chicken a few minutes to rest before slicing into it, as this will finish the cooking and make sure that all of those delicious juices don't go running out the moment you cut into it. The only thing left to do from here is basque in the simple joy of crispy, delicious chicken skin. Nothing better than that!

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