Recipe: Chicken Under Brick

We continue to experience growth problems with the chickens. They were traumatized by the frigid weather and are coming back slowly. If your box does not have one, definitely save this chicken under a brick recipe. I’m sure the big fat hen will appear by the time of the April deliveries. You will make it a family standard.

Mark Bittman wrote The Minimalist cooking column for the New York Times for years. This is one of his most popular recipes. A few modifications that we preferred from what you find below:

  • We used the cast iron skillet. Did not find a non-stick skillet necessary and the iron only adds to the flavor.
  • We used no rosemary at all, but instead more than doubled the fresh, coarsely chopped garlic and added 1/4th teaspoon of oregano in the spice rub, which included a tablespoon each of salt and black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper, and 1/8th teaspoon cayenne or red pepper.
  • You should for sure slit the skin on the breasts and the thighs and put the garlic and spice rub between skin and flesh before cooking.
  • When cooked and rested for 20 minutes, slice your portions off but then ladle the natural gravy over the slices before serving.
  • We marinated in the rub for 3 hours before cooking.

Chicken Under Brick


  • 1 whole 3 pound chicken (the Big Fat Hen in your cooler), rinsed, dried and split, backbone removed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for the rub plus 3 tablespoons for the skillet
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, optional
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters


  1. Place the chicken on a cutting board, cut out the backbone to allow the chicken to press out flat, and using your hands, press down hard to make it as flat as possible. Mix together the rosemary leaves, salt, pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and rub this all over the chicken. Tuck some of the mixture under the skin as well. If time permits, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to a day (even 20 minutes of marinating boosts the flavor).
  2. When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. On the stovetop burner, preheat an ovenproof 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Press rosemary sprigs, if using, into the skin side of the chicken. Put remaining olive oil in the pan and wait about 30 seconds for it to heat up.
  3. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, along with any remaining pieces of rosemary and garlic; weight it with another skillet or with one or two bricks or rocks, wrapped in aluminum foil. The idea is to flatten the chicken by applying weight evenly over its surface.  Cook over medium-high to high heat for 5 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Roast for 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and remove the weights; turn the chicken over (it will now be skin side up) and roast 10 minutes more, or until done (large chickens may take an additional 5 minutes or so). Serve hot or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.