Chicken under a brick with kale, bacon, and pine nuts
Serves 4 with leftovers
1 whole chicken (4 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 pounds kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 2-inch pieces
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a brick wrapped in foil or a heavy cast iron frying pan, a rimmed baking sheet, and a plate lined with a paper towel.
2. Set the chicken on a cutting board breast down. With kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone and lift it out (freeze to use in stock). Open the chicken as much as you can. Turn it skin side up. Place one hand on top of another over the breastbone and bear down hard with all your weight to break the breastbone and flatten the chicken. Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
3. In a large skillet that will hold the flattened bird, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Set the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet. Place the brick on the chicken, or, if using a pan as a weight, place a piece of foil over the chicken and set the pan on top. Cook for 4 minutes or until the skin is golden. Remove the weight. With tongs, turn the chicken over and set in the baking sheet.
4. Transfer to the oven. Roast the bird for about 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165 degrees. Rest for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, pour off and discard the fat in the skillet. Add the bacon to the pan, and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until crisp. Transfer the bacon to the paper towel-lined plate. Add the pine nuts to the pan, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until golden. Pour off and discard the excess fat again. Add the bacon and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock, and stir well to release the sediment in the pan.
6. Add as much kale to the pan as will fit. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until it wilts, and then add the remaining kale. Cook, turning often, for 5 minutes, or until it is tender. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of kale for the barley pilaf.
7. On a cutting board, cut the chicken into 8 serving pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breast pieces. Set aside 2 pieces of chicken for the pilaf. Add the chicken to the kale. Serve with barley. Sally Pasley Vargas