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Next Iron Chef contestant. Sam Sifton called his Chicken Under a Brick the restaurant’s best dish, and said if it was "a record you’d want to play it again and again." With this recipe, you don't have to visit New York to hear this song. --Arthur Bovino
- 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
- 1 brick, wrapped in aluminum foil
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.
- 1 (3 1/2) pound whole chicken, wings removed
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pinch herbes de Provence, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or as needed
- 2 heavy clay bricks, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Use kitchen shears to cut down both sides of the backbone. Remove backbone and discard. Cut through breastbone from the inside until chicken folds out like a book and lays flat.
Season chicken all over with salt and black pepper, and sprinkle herbes de Provence on the inside. Let chicken sit for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature pat dry with paper towels. Brush skin-side of chicken with oil and season again with salt and black pepper.
Heat an oven-proof cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. Place chicken, skin-side down, in hot skillet and place bricks evenly on top to weigh down chicken.
Roast chicken in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove bricks, turn chicken over, and continue roasting until juices run clear and meat is no longer pink at the bone, 5 to 15 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
Preheat the oven's broiler and broil the chicken until skin is crispy and golden, 1 to 3 minutes.
- Nutritional Sample Size per half 3-lb. chicken
- Calories (kcal) : 990
- Fat Calories (kcal): 610
- Fat (g): 67
- Saturated Fat (g): 17
- Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 14
- Monounsaturated Fat (g): 32
- Cholesterol (mg): 355
- Sodium (mg): 850
- Carbohydrates (g): 1
- Fiber (g): 0
- Protein (g): 89
- Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry. Follow the directions in the Photo-essay to split and partially bone the chicken. Rinse and dry the chicken halves again. Combine the thyme, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil in a large zip-top bag or mixing bowl. Add the chicken halves. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- Heat the oven to 450°F. Wrap two bricks in a couple of layers of foil. (If you don’t have bricks, use heavy rocks, 2-lb. weights, or another heavy pan weighed down with cans.) Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, let the excess marinade drain off, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set a large cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add just enough vegetable oil to lightly film the pan. Put the chicken halves, skin side down, in the pan and immediately put a brick on top of each half. Turn the heat to medium and cook (without moving the chicken) until the skin is a deep golden brown (check with a spatula) and the chicken is cooked about halfway through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bricks, turn the chicken halves over, and put the pan in the hot oven to finish roasting the chicken until a thermometer registers at least 165°F, another 20 to 25 minutes.
Add to List
- 1 (4-to 5-lb.) whole chicken
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 large red onion, cut into 12 wedges
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1-in. pieces
- 8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, halved
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Using a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears, cut down both sides of the backbone to remove it. Flip the chicken so that the breast side is up press down to flatten. Rub with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle evenly with the coriander, pepper, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Place the chicken breast-side down in the skillet and top with a smaller heavy skillet. Cook until the skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the smaller skillet. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Toss together the onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, garlic, and the remaining oil and salt. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in the skillet. Place the chicken breast-side up on the vegetables. Bake in oven until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 50 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the oregano.
“Brick” Roast Chicken
- The smallest whole chicken you can find, ideally 3 1/2 pounds or less
- Salt and pepper
- Canola oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 small shallot
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 Tbsp. butter
Ask your kindly neighborhood butcher to spatchcock your chicken. Alternatively, take sharp kitchen shears and cut out the backbone on either side. Flatten your chicken, pressing down to crack the breast bone.
If you can, liberally salt your chicken (but not pepper) at least a day, ideally two days before, and let chill in fridge. This makes a world of difference. Otherwise, salt your butterflied chicken at least an hour before roasting. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Use a large cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan, one that would fit the whole bird. Turn on heat to medium-high and coat your pan with canola oil. Pat the chicken skin dry. When the oil shimmers, carefully place your flattened chicken skin-side down. Transfer the pan with the chicken into your heated oven. Top the chicken with a folded-over piece of foil, then place a Dutch oven (or two foil-wrapped bricks) on top.
While this is roasting, we’ll prepare for the pan sauce. Mince a whole shallot. Cut a lemon in two—half you’ll use for the sauce, the other to squeeze atop the cooked chicken. Have a whisk ready.
After 20 minutes of roasting, very carefully remove the hot Dutch oven and foil cover. Then remove the pan with chicken and place on your stovetop. Using tongs and a firm grip, flip the chicken, ideally without tearing the skin. Place this pan and the chicken back in the oven and roast for 10-12 more minutes. Afterward, you’re looking for an internal temperature near the thigh meat of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a baking sheet to let rest, as you move onto the pan sauce.
Place the pan—with all the chicken juices and browned bits—on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the minced shallot, and using a wooden spoon, scrape the crusty bits from pan and incorporate with the shallots. When the shallots are translucent and soft, add a few splashes of white wine (about 1/4 cup) to deglaze the pan. Really go to town scraping down the pan with the wooden spoon.
After a minute, most of the alcohol will have evaporated. Add in the butter and chicken stock. There will also be juices pooled on the baking sheet with the chicken—you’ll want to pour this into your pan sauce as well. Whisk until the sauce is glossy and smooth. Finally, squeeze in the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the chicken into the standard eight pieces and place on a large platter. Pour the pan sauce around the chicken, but not over, because you’ll want to retain the crispy skin. Serve immediately, ideally with crusty bread to mop up the liquid gold.
Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.
The “perfect roast chicken” is nice. But the brick chicken is superior in all the ways that matter to a home cook.
To be fair, brick chicken has been here all along. The al mattone method of cooking birds dates back to the Roman era, when a sizable tile (called a mattone ) was placed over the bird inside a terra cotta Dutch oven (of sorts) that was heated over an open flame. You can still buy a similar set throughout Tuscany, where pollo al mattone remains a regional standby. In Russia and the Caucasus, a similar dish, called chicken tapaka , is likewise a stalwart.
But, like many New Yorkers, I met brick chicken in the early aughts at Williamsburg’s Marlow & Sons, an effortlessly hip American tavern that, along with its sister restaurant, Diner, helped define the modern Brooklyn restaurant. It was a half bird, partially deboned and cooked under a cylindrical, 20-pound piece of shipyard scrap collected from the Brooklyn Navy Yard until its skin became so crisp you could practically crack it with the back of a spoon. It arrived atop a shallow pool of chicken stock with an understated wedge of lemon. Greens of some sort were always present, but they never seemed to register with me over the years (kale would be an appropriate guess, especially for the period), mostly because they were sideshow.
Shortly after the restaurant opened in 2004, the brick chicken took off “like a bullet,” says Marlow & Sons owner Andrew Tarlow. There it has safely remained—tweaked and tuned but never removed. (The dining room at Marlow & Sons remains closed in the wake of COVID-19, but in a testament to the chicken’s demand, it has migrated to Diner’s menu for interim safekeeping.) Few other chickens have that kind of track record or gravitational pull before Williamsburg became its own attraction, it was a chicken to cross the river for.
The Marlow bird precipitated a boom of golden spatchcocked chickens, flattened with abandon. By the mid-aughts, everybody from Mark Bittman to Rachael Ray had a recipe for that Marc Forgione’s namesake restaurant trotted out its own signature brick chicken Rita Sodi debuted a Cornish hen al mattone at I Sodi and Missy Robbins says that, in 2010, during her time at A Voce, she was “selling fifty al mattone birds per day.” The trend stretched outside of New York City, landing on menus from Los Angeles to Chicago. There was a moment there when the brick chicken seemed poised to take its place alongside the roast chicken in the great pantheon of American staples. But the power of the brick began to fade, dismissed by some as a passé relic of the farm-to-table era, alongside fried Brussels sprouts and kale salad. By 2015, we were back to pondering the perfect roast chicken.
But I am here to implore you to redirect your gaze. The brick chicken isn’t just worthy of your respect in my humble view, it’s superior to the roast chicken in all the practical ways that concern a home cook: control, unmatched crispiness, a bonus built-in pan sauce. It’s still the kind of bird worth crossing a river for, even if you don’t have to. So grab yourself a brick, and let’s go.
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Chicken under a brick (Pollo al mattone)
You can cover your bricks with foil and roast a whole chicken in a cast iron skillet. The results are moist and delicious. Photo by Bill St. John.
1 whole, small to medium chicken, 3-4 pounds, the cavity trimmed of excess fat
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (not overly fruity or peppery), plus more for cooking
Juice and zest of 1 lemon, plus another lemon in wedges for serving
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles, finely minced (or 1 teaspoon dried, crushed in the palm)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley for serving
Spatchcock the chicken: Rinse then pat dry the chicken and place it breast-side down on the cutting board, its neck turned away from you. With kitchen shears or a boning knife, cut along the backbone, tail to neck, tight along one side of the backbone, Repeat along the other side, discarding backbone. (If you wish, save the bone for making broth.)
Flip the bird over breast-side up and press down with both hands, as if performing CPR, until you hear the breastbone crack. Flatten the whole thing as best you can and place it on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper or in a non-reactive pan large enough to hold it but that also will fit in the refrigerator.
Make the marinade: In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, the juice and zest of the 1 lemon, the pepper flakes, rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper.
Slather the marinade all over and under the spatchcocked chicken (even under some of the breast skin, if you like), cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. If you’re up in the middle of the night, turn it over and re-cover it. Before cooking, bring it out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To cook, heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a heavy, oven-proof skillet large enough to hold the chicken flat (such as 12-inch cast iron or heavy aluminum), and over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil until it shimmers. Take the chicken and shake off any pieces of garlic or lemon peel from the marinade and add the chicken to the skillet, skin-side down. Quickly top the chicken with a heavy object(s) (hence the name chicken under a brick) — see important note below — the bottom of which is oiled or coated with cooking spray and that evenly presses down on as much of the surface of the chicken as possible. Cook this way for 5 minutes.
Place the pan, the chicken and its weights in the oven and roast the chicken for 25 minutes. Remove the pan, pull off the weights, flip the chicken skin-side up, then replace the weights and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the breast, or until the juices run clear at the thigh joint.
To serve: Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes on the cutting board. Carve the chicken into pieces, serving it with the pan juices, lemon wedges, and chopped parsley.
Several notes on cooking: You may choose not to marinate the chicken ahead of time that’s often done in Italy when grilling the bird over coals. In that case, go easy on the black pepper which will simply char bitterly. You may use another herb than rosemary (although it is the most traditional), such as twice as much parsley, or the same amount of sage or summer savory, or half as much thyme or oregano. Shallots may substitute for the garlic lime juice and zest or balsamic may sub for the lemon juice. Instead of olive oil, you may also use ghee or French-style clarified butter.
As for weights, many possibilities: Heavy housing bricks covered with a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil another cast iron or enameled iron pan, or a couple of small dumbbells or big rocks in a skillet. You may be lucky enough to own a true mattone or glazed clay weight made just for this purpose. Whatever you choose to use, it must be oven-proof (no encyclopedias). The weight(s) should add up to at least 10 pounds.
You also may cook the chicken on an open or flat grill surface, minding the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Or entirely atop the stove in the heavy skillet. In any application of heat, however or wherever, the recipe calls for weights on the chicken while it cooks.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In a bowl, mix all spice mixture ingredients. Dust chicken with spice mix (store extra in a glass jar) sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coat a cast-iron frying pan or ovenproof sauté pan with cooking spray. Heat pan over medium-high heat 1 minute. Place chicken skin side down in the pan. Rest a heavy weight such as a foil-wrapped brick on top. (Or use another heavy ovenproof skillet or pan to keep skin of chicken in contact with the hot pan.) Lower heat cook 6 minutes. Put the pan, weight and all, in the oven and cook 8 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired, and asparagus or a seasonal green.
Nutritional analysis provided by Self
Marc Forgione: Recipes and Stories from the Acclaimed Chef and Restaurant
Chef Marc Forgione opened his eponymous New York City restaurant in 2008 to widespread acclaim, becoming the youngest American-born chef and owner to receive a Michelin star in consecutive years. Upon winning Season 3 of Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef, Forgione joined the ranks of former and current stars and best-selling authors such as Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. He can now be seen competing as one of the stars of the beloved Iron Chef America. Forgione’s first cookbook features gorgeous photos throughout and 170 recipes with restaurant signature favorites including Chili Lobster and Chicken Under a Brick. The cookbook features not only recipes but also stories of an unlikely journey to where Chef Forgione and the restaurant are now. Flavor comes first, but Forgione is like an artist in the way he presents food. His goal with the book is not to just present a collection of recipes but to challenge home cooks and aspiring chefs, helping them to elevate their skills in the kitchen.
Watch the video: Marc Forgiones Famous Chicken Under a Brick Recipe - Savvy, Ep. 24 (May 2022).