Chicken under a brick (or brick chicken) simply refers to a bird that has been spatchcocked or had its backbone removed. It is then covered with a brick to flatten it and either grilled or cooked at high heat in the oven. The original recipe is thought to be Italian, but is now common all over the world.
While removing the backbone and weighing down with bricks may seem like a lot of work for a chicken, it's absolutely worth the trouble. It's not easy to cook a whole chicken so that both the dark and white meat are juicy and the skin is perfectly browned and crisp. Preparing the chicken this way allows for a more even cooking surface and the heavy bricks help to keep it as flat as possible.
Although it sounds as if it requires a great deal of culinary expertise, spatchcocking a chicken is actually quite simple and all you really need is a good pair of kitchen shears. Place the chicken, breast-side-down,on a cutting board. Using the shears, cut away the backbone on each side and remove. Flip over the bird and press it down to flatten it. You can also just ask your butcher to do it for you.
Gather the ingredients. Prepare a grill or preheat the oven to 400 F.
Place the chicken, with its backbone removed, on a plastic cutting board skin-side down. Using your hands, press down hard to make the chicken as flat as possible, focusing on the breastbone to flatten it.
Combine the olive oil, fresh thyme, dried rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and rub generously all over the chicken. Tuck the wings slightly under breast.
Place the chicken, skin-side down, on the grill or, if using an oven, on a baking sheet or in a large cast iron pan.
Wrap the bricks with aluminum foil to prevent brick dust from contaminating the food. Set one brick on top of each side of the chicken. The bricks will help to further flatten the chicken with their weight and allow it to cook evenly and quickly.
Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the bricks, flip the chicken so that the breast and skin are now up, and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Use an instant-read thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, to check that the bird has reached the safe temperature 165 F.
Carve and enjoy.
- Feel free to change up the herbs from thyme and rosemary. Try sage, tarragon, or oregano.
- Don't be afraid to give the cooked chicken a bit of acid by squeezing on some fresh lemon juice.