Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brick (hen)House - Chicken Under a Brick

Many thanks to HowChow for reviewing Mark Bittman’s new book last week. This led me to reserving Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes, which in turn reminded me that I have always wanted to make his Chicken Under a Brick recipe.

How to Cook Everything has been my “go to” cookbook for ages. If you don’t own it, buy it now. It is what it’s titled – a guide for how to cook everything.

For close to 10 years, I have been making a cross between Bittman’s and Alton Brown’s roasted chickens. I call it Blast Furnace Chicken. I cook a whole chicken for 30 minutes at 500 degrees, and then drop the temp to 350 until the chicken is done. This process usually takes about 75 minutes and results in a moist chicken with crispy skin.

Chicken under a brick differs by cooking the chicken flat under a heavy weight. You start by cutting the backbone out of the bird and flattening. You bring the oven to 500 and pre-heat a heavy skillet over high heat on the stove. You then place the chicken skin side down in the skillet and weight with another skillet filled with rocks, bricks, or in my stacked with cast a cast iron griddle. You cook like this for 20 minutes and then flip the chicken and cook until done. I seasoned with Pensey’s Chicago Steak Seasoning and fresh rosemary. The full recipe and technique are outlined in the books listed above. But be warned, lifting heavy (and stacked) pots from a 500 degree oven is a little tricky. Be careful!

Bittman suggests that this recipe will take about 30 minutes. My chicken took closer to 40 minutes, but the meat was super moist and the skin was crispy. Neither the Mrs. nor I felt it was any better than my Blast Furnace Chicken. And it’s kind of a hassle to weight the chicken and lift the hot heavy pots. It’s certainly an option for when you need to cook a chicken quickly though.

We served it with roasted green beans, Trader Joe’s sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage, a green salad, and le Canard Sauvage Zinfandel (a dry creek zin from Trader Joe’s).



  1. I've been thinking about Brick Chicken! I might have to try your blast-furnace method. :)

  2. I'm planning a post on the blast-furnace method in the coming weeks. If you have not read Alton Brown's Heat + Food = Cooking, I suggest checking it out.

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