Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Aug

Herb Chicken Cooked Under a Brick

Who would’ve guessed that the secret to the juiciest, most tender chicken breast you’ve ever tasted was a brick? Not a fancy culinary instrument that happens to be called a brick, but an actual brick, the type used to build houses and fireplaces and to landscape yards. A brick set on top of a cooking chicken applies just enough pressure to push the bird against the hot pan, crisping up the skin and cooking all the meat evenly and quickly before it dries out. The bird comes out juicy and tender on the inside, crispy and golden on the outside.

As long as you have a few bricks laying around, the technique couldn’t be easier. First, remove the backbone from the chicken so the bird can be splayed out flat. With a pair of kitchen shears, this is quick work. Next, rub the chicken down with something tasty. In this case, a smoky, herbal rub made from thyme, oregano, garlic and smoked paprika add tons of flavor. You can go this route, or use any of your own favorite rubs or marinades.

Now, it’s time for the bricks to work their magic. Heat an ovenproof skillet on the stove and set the chicken in it, skin side down. Put the bricks on top and leave it alone for 6-8 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a hot oven and leave the chicken alone again, with bricks on top, for 20 minutes or so. Flip the bird, let it cook a little longer, and you’re minutes away from tasting a culinary miracle. The chicken breasts are not only moist, they’re down right succulent. The rest of the bird is amazing too. You might as well make room in your kitchen cupboard now to permanently store two bricks. After trying this recipe, you’ll never want to roast chicken any other way.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds (approx 1.5 kg)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (30 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (15 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (5 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (approx 1 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (approx 1 ml)

Tools:

  • Ovenproof skillet
  • 1-2 bricks, wrapped in foil

Instructions:

In a bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the oil with the thyme, oregano, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Set the chicken on a cutting board breast side down.

Starting at the tail, use a knife or better yet, kitchen shears, to cut all the way down the back, keeping as close to the backbone as you can. Then, cut down the other side of the backbone, splitting the chicken open. Remove the backbone.

Spread the chicken open, lightly pressing down to flatten it. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken, getting some under the skin and directly onto the meat.

Preheat oven to 400 °F (204 °C)

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is really hot, add the chicken skin side down and place the bricks on top to push the bird down against the skillet. You can get away with using one brick if the chicken is small, but larger birds usually need two bricks.

Cook until the skin is golden brown, 6-8 minutes (it’s okay to take the bricks off and peek).

Put the skillet in the oven and roast the chicken with the bricks on top for 25 minutes. Take off the bricks and turn the chicken over. Put the bricks back on and roast another 10 or so minutes until the chicken is done. The juices should run clear when you pierce the bird with a fork; you can also stab it with a thermometer and make sure it reads at least 165 °F (74 °C).


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  1. Yummm, although I don’t have bricks, I make go get some just for this purpose. Looks delicious!

    Kyle Johnson wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • There’s always bricks at a local dump….otherwise you can use river rocks.

      Go2goal wrote on November 4th, 2012
  2. Wow we learn a lot of stuff here … looking out for my couple of bricks

    WildGrok wrote on August 18th, 2012
  3. Yes Yes Yes!

    This is my absolute favorite way to make chicken. I add one extra step, though:

    Make a paste of butter, chopped garlic, and a little salt – you want ~2T of it. When the chicken is all splayed out, work a finger or two UNDER the skin at the top of each breast, and the side of each thigh – gently lift the skin from the flesh (careful not to tear it). Spoon 1/2Tbs of butter/garlic into each opening, and spread it around by rubbing on the outside of the skin.

    It’s a little messy, and maybe a little more intimate than one likes to get with one’s dinner, but WOW. The skin protects the garlic from burning; the butter and salt and garlic season the meat AND further crisp up the skin from the inside. It’s a good thing.

    BobG wrote on August 18th, 2012
  4. Ah, I’m glad you showed us how to use the bricks – foil. I was wondering how I was going to wash them clean enough. Interesting. Going to look around a few construction sites…

    Alison Golden wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • I just bought two for 43 cents each at Home Depot. You may as well just go with the real thing, they’re so cheap! I had no idea.

      Cindy wrote on August 18th, 2012
  5. Just search esquire 45 minute chicken. You don’t need a brick, just the cast iron pan. Rub the bird in what you like, place in pan breast side up, and bake at 450 for 45-50 minutes. Perfect every time.

    James wrote on August 18th, 2012
  6. Hey, you got this from Alton Brown! Did you, I believe he did this exact thing with Cornish hens. Anyway, I love making chicken this way, only other way I love it more is rotisserie. Yum.

    Peacemaker wrote on August 18th, 2012
  7. I knew I was keeping those two bricks on my balcony for a good reason!

    Miss Grok wrote on August 18th, 2012
  8. Question: Do you heat the brick first too, or can it be stone cold? (pun intended!)

    rozzi80 wrote on August 18th, 2012
  9. In before someone declares the PUFA will kill us all!

    Gene wrote on August 18th, 2012
  10. I do the same thing with chicken breasts on the grill. The brick makes the best chicken breast.

    John Brown wrote on August 18th, 2012
  11. That looks awesome!!! Before I saw the foil wrapped around the brick i was thinking… hmm is it safe to use concrete brick…lol

    This is a great trick– and very cheap! I might go get a brick at lowe’s next time I make chicken!

    Gift Clumsywarrior wrote on August 18th, 2012
  12. This is crazy awesome. Now I just need to find a brick!

    Primal Toad wrote on August 18th, 2012
  13. Wondering whether some bricks may have nasty stuff in/on them…? They are very absorbent, so I wouldn’t just pick up a brick from a construction site if it may have been lying in oily water or something (nothing against the fat, I just prefer EVOO to 10W40). Seems like the aluminum foil would hep, but still, I’m going to find a new one… Anyone know about stuff in bricks other than clay?

    Tom B-D wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • Anyone know if I’ll get any results if I google ‘stuff in bricks other than clay’?

      conrack wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • OK, did some reading. Typical, traditional bricks are benign, mostly clay. But there are fly ash bricks. Fly ash is a waste product from coal generation plants that contains heavy metals–arsenic, mercury, etc. I’d keep that out of my oven and will look for old-school red clay.

      Tom B-D wrote on August 18th, 2012
  14. ASBESTOS

    TERRY wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • Asbestos should not be a concern assuming the brick being used was manufactured from the 1980’s onward.

      Gene wrote on August 20th, 2012
  15. You can use anything heavy that will go in an oven – a cast iron skillet works really well. Yes, you should heat it up first. Place it in the oven while you are preheating.

    Siobhan wrote on August 18th, 2012
  16. For best results you should remove the keel bone from the chicken. Easy to do and the bird will lay flatter in the pan- increasing the suface area being cooked. Google “removing keel bone” to see how it’s done.

    Danny wrote on August 18th, 2012
  17. i really like this idea of cooking under a brick – gonna have to try this one!

    Marissa wrote on August 18th, 2012
  18. An exotic cooking technique to impress a special guest. Just in time for fall weather too. So ready to put the slow cooker away .

    Kim wrote on August 18th, 2012
  19. My grandma uses bricks to cook a few types of meat, chicken being one. She does that with bacon, too, because she’s obsessed with perfectly flat, evenly cooked bacon.

    It’s amazing some of the old tricks that have almost gotten lost over time. Great post!

    Casey wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • Bacon cooks perfectly flat if you put it on a tray in the oven instead of cooking it in a pan on the stovetop. It’s the one-sided heat of the pan that makes it curl up.

      Allison wrote on August 18th, 2012
  20. I think I’ll try 2 big river rocks.

    crowley wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • Be careful when heating river rocks. I think they somehow trap moisture and then explode when heated.

      Kelekona wrote on August 22nd, 2012
  21. I’ve always heard that process of removing the backbone called “spatchcocking.” Makes it even more fun when you repeat that to yourself while doing it.

    Nelly wrote on August 18th, 2012
    • there’s a recipe in the archives here (& in one of the cookbooks) on a spatchcocked chicken. when I put them in my smoker I also split them thusly.

      peggy wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • :-) There was no ‘like’ button…

      Michele wrote on August 25th, 2012
    • Peter wrote on August 27th, 2012
  22. I have a brick that I found in the road and was going to put in the toilet cystern to save water. It turned out to be too big so it has just sat in my bathroom ever since. Now I know what to do with it!

    Indiscreet wrote on August 19th, 2012
  23. Great post, can’t wait to try this bad boy!!

    Jay wrote on August 19th, 2012
  24. Thanks for another great way to eat chicken. My dinner guests will get a kick out of this way of cooking the chicken. :D

    Hannah wrote on August 19th, 2012
  25. This is one of my favorite recipes! I will try this rub as I only use s/p and lots of crushed garlic. and I generally use butter as the cooking fat.

    PaleoDentist wrote on August 19th, 2012
  26. I recommend using a terracotta tile (in the ovent) as a pizza stone, or for baking bread. It conducts heat well, is super cheap and gets better with age as the flavours seep into the stone. Best pizzas ever, forget the expensive pizza stones – we did initially buy one but it cracked…

    Tropical Fish wrote on August 19th, 2012
  27. A cast iron skillet works wonders in place of the brick. It gives a nice, convenient handle.

    Chris_H wrote on August 20th, 2012
  28. Well done, what a delicious idea

    De Razor wrote on August 20th, 2012
  29. I do my brick chicken on the grill outside. Same concept, but cooks much faster and has the yummy grill taste.

    Adam wrote on August 20th, 2012
  30. Along with the brick technique, we’ve been cooking our meat using the “clenching” method. You cook the meat directly on the coals. Both methods give it a great seared outside and tender inside. Very Primal!

    Rouk wrote on August 20th, 2012
  31. Wonderful! What does the brick do to the chicken to make it taste so yummy? I added a squeeze of lemon and a dessertspoon of honey for luck. My partner said it was the best chicken ever. I agree. Thanks a million!

    Norfolk Andy wrote on August 20th, 2012
  32. Victoria wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • That press has a wooden handle, so that would not be good in the oven, but there are others that do not have wood. I have one that is all iron. I’ll have to get another one, to do both sides of the chicken, though. :)

      Victoria wrote on August 21st, 2012
  33. Great info here, I also found many amazing tips and recipes on thefitnessexplorer.com, amazing tips on pale living, barefoot running, and primal fitness. Very informative and helpful.

    Jake wrote on August 22nd, 2012
  34. It’s amazing how balanced my energy levels have been on this diet. I’m glad I found this blog. Thanks Mark

    Frank wrote on August 22nd, 2012
  35. Had to use my dutch oven but had plenty of bricks lying around found in the backyard during various projects. Delicious!

    Michele wrote on August 25th, 2012
  36. Secind time I’ve made this in two weeks and it’s awesome!!

    Josh wrote on September 3rd, 2012
  37. Great recipe….glad I picked up those bricks at the take-it or leave-it area at the dump.

    Next time I’ll be adding wild mushrooms, some rosemary, and fennel.

    A terra cotta pot works as well as cast iron.

    Go2goal wrote on November 4th, 2012
  38. My mother literally just cooks it ON the brick…and a fire. That’s it. No pan. No oven. There you go. Absolutely delicious. The point of using a brick besides pressure is also the way it distributes heat. If you can get a fire and have enough bricks to make a mini oven opening, it’s really damn good. Also instead of aluminum foil…just wash the damn thing. The bricks also give it a more roasty flavor to it.

    SHE wrote on September 23rd, 2013

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