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Recipes: No need to worry about rubbery roasted chicken with these dishes

Try these international takes on chicken under a brick, jerk chicken, and five spice chicken.

Crispy chicken under a brick or tsitsila tabaka.
Connie Miller of CB Creatives
Crispy chicken under a brick or tsitsila tabaka.

These recipes are part of a new partnership between Christopher Kimball and the cooks at Milk Street and the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column.

Over the years, we’ve tried mightily to perfect the roasted chicken: a bird with cracklingly crisp skin and moist, flavorful meat. But whether you’re basting, brining, stuffing, or dry-rubbing, legs take longer than the breasts to cook, so some of the meat inevitably turns rubbery. For a solution we turn to Italy and the republic of Georgia, where they spatchcock the chicken and weight it down so the meat makes more contact with the hot pan. In Britain meanwhile, they use the “tray bake,” in which chicken parts are arranged on a baking sheet along with vegetables and other ingredients that become a flavorful pan sauce. Our version uses skin-on, bone-in thighs rubbed with a jerk-inspired spice blend. And finally, a method where we slash deep cuts into chicken parts, allowing Chinese five-spice seasonings to penetrate deeply.

Crispy Chicken Under a Brick (Tsitsila Tabaka)

Makes 4 servings

For this recipe, the skillet in which the chicken is cooked must be oven-safe, as the bird roasts in the oven after the initial stovetop sear. For the “brick,” we use a second heavy skillet or a large, sturdy pot (such as a Dutch oven); the weight presses the chicken down, ensuring the bird makes good contact with the hot skillet, rendering the fat and crisping the skin. You also can use one or two clean bricks wrapped in heavy-duty foil.

Don’t use a chicken much larger than 4 pounds, as it may not fit properly in the skillet. Don’t forget to pat the chicken dry before searing. The drier the skin, the better it crisps. After searing, make sure to drain the fat in the pan before putting the bird in the oven; this reduces splatter.

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1½    teaspoons ground coriander

½      teaspoon granulated garlic

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3½- to 4-pound whole chicken

1         tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

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2        tablespoons salted butter

8        medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2        cups low-sodium chicken broth

 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2        tablespoons lemon juice

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¼      cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, end to end. Remove and discard the backbone (or save it to make broth). Spread open the chicken, then turn it breast up. Use the heel of your hand to press down firmly on the thickest part of the breast, until the wishbone snaps. Season all over with the spice mixture, rubbing it into the skin. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the lowest position. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Place the chicken breast down in the pan. Lay a small sheet of foil over the chicken, then place a second heavy skillet or pot on top. Reduce to medium and cook until the skin is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, removing the weight and foil and checking every 4 to 5 minutes to ensure even browning.

Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a large plate, turning it breast up. Pour off and discard the fat in the skillet. Slide the chicken breast back into the pan and place in the oven. Roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest while you make the sauce.

Set the skillet (the handle will be hot) over medium-high and cook the butter and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits, then cook until the garlic is softened and the mixture is lightly thickened and reduced to about Πcup, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, mash the garlic until almost smooth and mix it into the sauce. Off heat, stir in the cayenne, lemon juice, and cilantro, then transfer to a serving bowl. Carve, then serve with the sauce.

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Jerk-Roasted Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Jerk-roasted chicken.
Connie Miller of CB Creatives
Jerk-roasted chicken.

Typical Jamaican jerk seasoning packs a big punch of heat from Scotch bonnet chilies. Here, we call for just one chili; it roasts along with the chicken and garlic and becomes part of the sauce. If you like, you can use a milder chili, such as serrano or jalapeño. Use chicken breasts, legs, thighs, or a combination.

Don’t use a roasting pan. The low sides of a sturdy rimmed baking sheet allow the chicken to cook quickly and brown evenly.

1         tablespoon packed brown sugar

2        teaspoons ground allspice

2        teaspoons dried thyme

2        teaspoons dried oregano

½      teaspoon ground cinnamon

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3        pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, trimmed and patted dry

10     medium garlic cloves, peeled

1         Scotch bonnet or habañero chili, stemmed

¼      cup lime juice, plus 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest

2        tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4        scallions, thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, allspice, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.

Place the chicken parts on a rimmed baking sheet and evenly season both sides with the spice mixture. Place the garlic cloves and chili in a single layer down the center of the baking sheet, then arrange the chicken parts, skin up, around the garlic; this prevents the garlic from scorching during roasting.

Roast the chicken until the thickest part of the breast (if using) reaches 160 degrees and the thickest part of the largest thigh/leg (if using) reaches 175 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes. The meat should show no pink when cut into. Transfer the chicken to a platter; leave the garlic on the baking sheet.

Using a fork, mash the garlic and chili to a paste on the baking sheet. Carefully pour 1/3 cup water onto the baking sheet and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and whisk in the lime zest and juice, oil, and scallions. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce with the chicken

Five-Spice Roasted Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Five-Spice Roasted Chicken
Connie Miller of CB Creatives
Five-spice roasted chicken.

Five-spice powder from China is a golden-brown blend that typically includes star anise, fennel, cloves, tongue-tingling Sichuan pepper, and cinnamon (or cassia, sometimes called Chinese cinnamon). We use it here in a fragrant seasoning paste that infuses chicken parts with deep savoriness. Deep slashes cut into the chicken ensure that the paste seasons the meat throughout and helps speed the cooking, and a high-temperature roast results in flavorful browning. To round out the meal, serve with steamed or stir-fried vegetables and rice.

Don’t omit the foil and salt lining for the baking sheet. The salt catches dripping juices and fat, preventing smoking, while the foil makes for super-easy cleanup.

12      medium garlic cloves, peeled

3        ounces fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (about ½ cup)

2        tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

2        teaspoons five-spice powder

2        teaspoons ground turmeric

6        tablespoons soy sauce, divided

4        tablespoons white sugar, divided

Kosher salt

3        pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, patted dry

2        tablespoons lime juice

1         serrano chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds

In a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, oil, five-spice powder, turmeric, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a large bowl.

Using a sharp knife, cut parallel slashes spaced about 1 inch apart on each chicken part, slicing through the skin all the way to the bone or cartilage. Add the chicken to the bowl and rub the marinade into the slashes and under the skin. Marinate at room temperature while the oven heats.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with extra-wide foil and spread 1 cup salt over it. Mist a wire rack with cooking spray, then set over the salt. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off the excess, then arrange skin up on the prepared rack. Roast until well browned and the thickest part of the breast (if using) reaches 160 degrees or the thickest part of the thigh (if using) reaches 175 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons soy sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, the lime juice, chili, and ¼ cup water. Serve the sauce with the chicken.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the amount of water used in Jerk-Roasted Chicken. The correct amount is 1/3 cup.