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Chicken Under a Brick

Chicken Under a Brick


Ingredients

  • 1 3 1/2–4-lb. chicken, backbone removed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Recipe Preparation

  • Prepare grill for high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side of grill; for a gas grill, leave 1 or 2 burners off).

  • Place chicken on work surface, skin side up. Using your palms, press firmly on breastbone to flatten breast.

  • Rub chicken with oil; season with salt and pepper. Tuck wings slightly under breast. Place chicken, skin side down, over indirect heat, set bricks on top, and grill, covered, until skin is golden and crisp, 25–30 minutes. Using tongs, remove bricks; turn chicken, skin side up. Replace bricks and continue grilling until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 25–30 minutes longer.

Nutritional Content

4 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 360 Fat (g) 10 Saturated Fat (g) 2 Cholesterol (mg) 160 Carbohydrates (g) 0 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 0 Protein (g) 36 Sodium (mg) 300Reviews Section

Grilled Chicken Under a Brick

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to make chicken. Even though grilling season is (technically) over, I'll still put on a coat and light the coals for this chicken—it's that good! The lemon and herb marinade gives the chicken a bright, fresh flavor, and thanks to that heavy "brick" (more on that later), it cooks much faster than a normal grilled chicken.

And the skin? Oh, the skin. So crispy and perfect.


Chicken Under a Brick

1. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Using kitchen shears, cut chicken along both sides of backbone discard backbone. Using heels of both hands, press chicken down until flattened.

2. In a 13࡯-inch baking dish, combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients. Add chicken, turning to coat. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

3. Spray grill rack with nonstick nonflammable cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350° to 400°).

4. Place chicken on grill rack, and top with an aluminum foil-wrapped brick. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, for 15 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer registers 165°, replacing brick after turning.

5. In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth and next 3 ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with chicken. Garnish with parsley, if desired.


Working from the cavity opening up to the neck, cut down each side of the back bone with kitchen scissors or a boning knife. Discard the backbone. Then open the chicken, like a book, exposing the cavity of the bird. The breast bones might crack a bit and that’s okay.

(More detailed instructions are below.)

With my Meyer lemon tree heavy with lemons and my herbs ready to be picked, I just had to make my chicken under a brick, a lemon herb chicken. I made the most delicious butter filled with the fresh garden herbs and some smoky spices. You won’t know what hit you.

This chicken is over-the-top, my friends!

This is not difficult — a bit of a culinary project, but an easy, fun one! It’s perfect for weekend cooking and the whole family will love it! Promise!

(Too many exclamation marks, I know.)

Everyone you serve this lemon herb chicken to, will ask you how to make chicken under a brick after they try it.


  • 1 4- to 4 1/2-pound chicken
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place 2 foil-wrapped bricks on the grill rack. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high or build a two-zone fire (coals on one side of the grill) in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium-high heat (about 450 degrees F).

Remove giblets from chicken and trim any excess skin and fat. Using kitchen shears, cut the chicken down one side of the backbone, through the ribs. Make an identical cut on the opposite side to remove the backbone completely discard. Place the chicken cut-side down and flatten with the heel of your hand. Gently loosen the skin over the breast and thigh meat. Rub oil, salt and pepper under the skin, a little on the skin and on the underside of the chicken.

If using a gas grill, turn off one burner (leaving 1 to 2 burners lit, depending on your grill). Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Wearing oven mitts, remove the hot bricks and set the chicken on the rack, skin-side down over the unlit portion of the grill. Place one brick on each half of the chicken, close the lid and grill until the skin is well marked and golden around the edges, 28 to 30 minutes. (If using a charcoal grill, add 10 coals after the first 30 minutes to maintain the heat.)

Wearing oven mitts, carefully remove the bricks. Using a large spatula, carefully turn the chicken over. Replace the bricks, close the lid and grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165 degrees F, 28 to 30 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before removing the skin and carving.

Once the grill is heated, oil a folded ­paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the hot rack right before placing the chicken on the grill.


Chicken Under a Brick (Mark Bittman)

A simple and delicious recipe from Mark Bittman's NY Times Column. Being flattened produces an evenly cooked, crisp, and moist bird with little effort. As a bonus at the end, much of the chicken's natural juices remain at the bottom of the pan they make a perfect sauce, especially for rice. You can also do this on the grill, at direct medium-low heat for about 15 minutes on the first (skin side) and 10 minutes for the other side. (Allow marinade to drip off before grilling), SOME VARIATIONS: -- Use different herbs sage, savory and tarragon are all great. Russians use paprika. -- Try a light dusting of cinnamon, ginger and/or other ''sweet'' spice. -- Use minced shallots instead of garlic. -- Vary the acidic ingredient: balsamic or Sherry vinegar, or lime can all pinch-hit for the lemon, depending upon the other flavors. -- Make the dish Asian, using peanut oil and a mixture of minced garlic, ginger and scallions. Finish the dish with lime and cilantro, or soy sauce and sesame oil.


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Chilly autumn weather is the perfect time to dive into heartier recipes like this twist on the classic brick chicken from chef Marc Forgione. While he’s not a big name outside of New York City, Forgione knows his way around a piece of meat. The brick chicken is a family recipe that’s become a signature dish at his restaurant, yet it’s relatively simple to make at home and delivers tender, juicy poultry with perfectly crispy skin. Don't have a brick? Any heavy object will do from a cast iron pan to a large can of tomatoes. Serve it with a tomato salad or a loaf of crusty bread — everything you need for a satisfying Sunday dinner.

Chicken Under A Brick

Serves 3 to 4 people

1 3-pound chicken 1 brick wrapped in tin foil
A few sprigs of thyme & rosemary
1/2 pound butter
3 tablespoons capers chopped
3 tablespoons shallots chopped
1 lemon
1 quart rosemary-lemon infused chicken stock

• De-bone the chicken, leaving drumstick on wing intact. Separate drumstick from carcass and poach it in chicken stock infused with rosemary and lemon until fork tender.

• Season the chicken skin with salt. Flip and and season the flesh with salt, black pepper, and zest from one lemon. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

• In a smoking hot pan with extra virgin olive oil add chicken, skin side down. Place the brick on top. Once the edges begin to brown, place the pan in oven at 400 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes.

• Remove from oven and remove the brick. Add butter, thyme and rosemary to the pan. Baste the chicken. Add capers and shallots. Cook until brown. Add parsley and sprinkle red pepper flakes


How to Make It

Preheat a gas grill to medium (about 400°F) on one side, or push hot coals to one side of a charcoal grill. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl.

Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut along both sides of backbone remove backbone. (Discard backbone, or reserve for stock.) Turn chicken breast side up open the underside of chicken like a book. Using the heel of your hand, press firmly against breastbone until it cracks. Tuck wing tips under. Loosen and lift skin from chicken with fingers spread herb mixture under skin.

Coat grill grate with cooking spray. Place chicken on grate, skin side down, over hot side of grill. Place a cast-iron skillet or aluminum foil-wrapped brick on chicken to flatten. Grill chicken 8 minutes or until well browned. Turn chicken over, and move to unheated side of grill. Place skillet or brick on chicken. Cover, and grill 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 165°F. Remove from grill let stand 10 minutes. Remove and discard skin cut chicken into pieces. Serve with lemon wedges.


Spatchcocked Chicken “Under a Brick” Recipe

Sometimes you come across a disruptive recipe and your life changes forever. This is one such recipe.

It was recommended to me by a reader named Saudia, from Oregon, who answered my call for recipe suggestions to use my brand-new Lodge pan, a US-made cast-iron skillet that goes elegantly from stove to oven. I’d been coveting one for a long time without ever having room in my luggage to bring it back from my travels, but early this summer, I finally found out it was available in Europe.

Saudia pointed me to the recipe Mark Bittman had published in the New York Times in 1997 (so, yeah, nothing new), and when I went on a search for images of the finished results, I stumbled upon this more recent post by my friend Adam, who had merged Bittman’s recipe with Amanda Hesser’s. I mostly followed the instructions outlined by Adam, with a few minor modifications.

First, you spatchcock* your chicken, which sounds a lot more intimidating than it really is: all you need to do is cut the chicken on either side of the backbone — I use kitchen shears — then flip the chicken and press it down firmly so it lies flat. This allows the chicken to cook faster and more evenly. Here’s how you do it:

I’d done spatchcocking once before, inspired by an old Gwyneth Paltrow video, of all things, but the chicken had turned out pretty dry so I’d gone back to my standard recipes for whole chicken: Muriel’s chicken or, with a bit more time on my hands, salt-crusted chicken or chicken in a bread crust.

But this recipe introduces a clever trick: you start by placing the chicken, skin side down, in a hot and oiled skillet, and you use a weight of some kind — the traditional recipe uses a brick, hence the name of the recipe — to press it down into the pan so the skin will brown nicely. The whole thing is then transfered to a very hot oven, where the chicken will roast for 15 minutes with the weight still on, and 15 more minutes skin side up and weight off.

This creates a marvellously colored chicken with a crisp, crackly skin perfectly cooked everything (including the breasts, which don’t dry out) and lots of delicious, garlic-infused cooking juices that drip into the skillet under the chicken and stay there without burning or evaporating. And all this in a mere 35 minutes! We’ve been so finger-licking impressed that the rôtisseries in our neighborhood might not see us quite so often.

For optimal flavor, the recipe also has you rub the chicken with olive oil, salt, dried herbs, and cumin (my own addition), and you should do this a little bit in advance, to allow the seasoning to be absorbed fully. For convenience, I like to spatchcock and rub the chicken the day before, and then keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it the next day.

In terms of equipment, you do need a cast iron skillet — or any heavy skillet — that’s ovenproof, and large enough to fit your spatchcocked chicken. I use this 26-cm (10-inch) Lodge pan and a standard French chicken fits in nice and snug. You also need something to use as the weight: if you’re the kind of person who has ready access to loose bricks you’ll wrap one in foil, but failing that you can use a second cast-iron skillet or the lid of a Dutch oven. I use the lid from this adorable cocotte.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? How did you cook it and how did you like the results?

* In French, a spatchcocked chicken is called by the cute term poulet en crapaudine, because the chicken is made to look a little bit like a toad, or crapaud. Croak, croak!


  • One 3 pound chicken, de-boned with drumstick on wing attached (you can ask your butcher to do it)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons, zest of one and peel of the other
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound butter
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 tablespoons capers, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Dried red pepper flakes, for garnish

After you de-bone the chicken, separate the drumstick from the carcass and set aside.

Season the chicken skin with salt, and season the flesh with salt, black pepper and zest from one lemon. Put it in the fridge to sit overnight. Then, in a stockpot, combine the chicken stock, 2 sprigs of rosemary, peel of one lemon, and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the drumsticks and let simmer for anywhere from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours until tender. Let it cool in the liquid overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a smoking hot pan with extra-virgin olive oil, add the chicken (except for the drumstick), skin side down and place the brick on top. Once the edges begin to brown, place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the drumsticks and pat dry.

Remove the chicken from the oven and remove the brick. Add the drumsticks to the pan along with the butter, thyme and rosemary and cook over medium-high heat, basting the chicken with the pan juices. Add the capers and shallots. Keeping an eye on it, cook until the skin is brown and crispy and the chicken is cooked through. Then remove from the heat, and garnish with the parsley and red pepper flakes.