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The real magic in this roast chicken recipe is in the pool of schmaltz, AKA rendered chicken fat, sizzling in the pan.
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
- 1 cup kosher salt, plus more
- 1 4–4½-pound chicken, halved, backbone removed
- ¼ cup schmaltz (chicken fat) or olive oil
Bring garlic, sugar, coriander seeds, 1 cup kosher salt, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 cup ice. Let cool. (You can also refrigerate or freeze brine if you want to speed things up.)
While brine is cooling, bone chicken breasts, leaving leg and thigh quarters intact. Start by cutting off wing tips; discard. Place chicken, skin side down, on a cutting board. Working with 1 chicken half at a time, angle the blade of a thin, sharp knife flush against breast bone and cut along bone to separate the rib cage from flesh. The only bones remaining should be in the wing, thigh, and drumstick. Repeat on the other side (save bones for making your next pot of stock).
Place chicken halves in cooled brine. Cover tightly and chill 12 hours.
Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan and pick off coriander seeds. Spread harissa all over chicken. Cover tightly and chill at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 400° (if you have a convection oven, turn the convection fan on). Heat schmaltz in a large cast-iron pan over medium. Carefully place chicken halves, skin sides down, in pan, making sure all the skin is in the fat. Cook until skin darkens and starts to crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast chicken until skin is very dark and meat is more than halfway cooked through, 20–25 minutes.
Remove skillet from oven and carefully turn chicken. Return to oven and roast, skin side up, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 8–12 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a large platter, placing skin side up. Drizzle some of the schmaltz over chicken and serve remaining schmaltz alongside.