This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her photographer friend Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, coauthored with Lee Brian Schrager, is Fried and True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.

My devotion to crispy chicken skin is well-known (heck, I coauthored a whole book in which it plays a prominent role). So the fact that I’ll go to great lengths to achieve a top layer of shattering goodness, designed to contrast with the juicy, perfectly cooked bird beneath, should be no surprise.

If you do end up using actual bricks — I bought mine for $1.19 apiece at the local hardware store — make sure to wrap them well in foil unless you want your chicken coated with terra-cotta crumbs. If you can’t find real bricks, a second cast-iron skillet works like a charm. Though I was happy with my initial experiments seasoning the chicken with nothing more than herbs, salt and pepper, I was looking for something with a little more kick, and feared dried spices might burn at 500 degrees. Enter harissa, the beguiling, “unscorchable” cumin- and coriander-inflected North African  hot-pepper paste. You can slather it on right before cooking, but allowing the chicken to marinate in the Harissa overnight makes the finished product even more special.

Learn the technique in the smoking-hot video below: