Pressure Cooker

Smash! Pound! Grind! Thwack! Forget “if you can read, you can cook.” These recipes are all about bringing some brawn to bear. So get out the brick, the mallet, the rolling pin. Your dinner (and your biceps) will be the better for it.

By Susan Spungen

CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes plus 1 hour
for marinating
Serves 4
1 3½-pound chicken
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled,
lightly smashed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped
rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground black
pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving

1. If the chicken is whole, use kitchen scissors and a large knife to cut along each side of the backbone to remove. Turn the chicken over, breast side up, and flatten. Cut through the middle of the breast to form two halves. Cut out the large piece of cartilage attached to one of the breasts. Cut off the wing tips. (You can, of course, have your butcher do all this for you.) Discard bones. Place chicken in a large bowl or -plastic bag. Add the red pepper, salt, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the rosemary, thyme and black pepper. Rub to distribute. Refrigerate to marinate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 450º. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on the stove over -medium-high heat for 5 -minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and cook the chicken, skin side down with a heavy weight on top (such as a brick wrapped in foil or a smaller cast-iron skillet with a grill weight), for 20 minutes, rotating pan and checking occasionally to ensure even browning. Re-move weight, and carefully turn chicken so it is skin side up. Add the garlic from the marinade to the -skillet, and transfer skillet to the oven to finish cooking, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with the garlic and lemon.

PRESSED REUBEN SANDWICH
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Makes 4 sandwiches
½ cup Thousand Island dressing
1½ teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce,
optional
8 slices rye bread
¾ pound corned beef, sliced
11⁄3 cups drained sauerkraut
½ pound sliced Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter,
softened

1. Mix the Thousand Island dressing with the Sriracha to taste. Slather about a tablespoon onto each slice of bread. Layer each of four bread slices with 3 ounces corned beef, 1⁄3 cup sauerkraut and 2 ounces Swiss cheese; top with another slice. Spread softened butter on the outside of each sandwich, about 1 teaspoon on each side.

2. Heat a large pan or a panini griddle over medium heat until hot. Grill each sandwich with a weight on top until cheese is melted, bread is golden brown and sandwich is hot, 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

RUSTIC APRICOT TART
Prep time: 43 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes plus
30 minutes for chilling
Makes one 9-inch tart
Crust
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter,
cold, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons ice water
1 egg yolk
Filling
8 fresh apricots, pitted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons apricot jam or
preserves
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
or sliced almonds

1. To make the crust: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until butter pieces are the size of peas. In a small cup, combine the water and egg yolk. Add the water mixture with the machine running. Process for 15 to 30 seconds, until dough begins to come together. Turn into a large bowl, and knead quickly into a rough mass. Place on a sheet of plastic wrap, and gather the wrap around the dough. Flatten into a 7-inch round disk, and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.

2. Place the disk on the countertop, and whack with a rolling pin to soften the dough. Sprinkle the counter, dough and rolling pin with a little flour to prevent sticking, and roll the dough into a circle, about 3⁄8 inch thick and 14 inches in diameter. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and chill until firm again, about 10 minutes.

First Published April 18, 2011

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