Chicken Under a Brick

May 2nd, 2012

Grilling season has begun on our deck.  What better way to mark the event than with this special spatchcocked chicken cooked under a brick.  The weight of the brick serves two purposes; to hold the chicken in its flattened state and to keep all of the surfaces in contact with the grill to ensure crispy skin.

The inspiration for this dish came from an image that I saw on a rental place in the Loire Valley of France.

During our third week in France we will be staying in this 18th Century restored barn in the area of Lerne.

What attracted me to the property was not only the beautiful countryside and proximity to historic chateaux and wineries, but the stone walls and exceptional kitchen.

The hosts are former restaurant owners from San Francisco and are available for catered meals and food and wine tours of the region.  If you would like to see more about this property go to this link.

So in honor of our upcoming trip, I am trying to cook meals with a French influence.  Stay with me this month if you like French food because that will be my focus.

Julia Child in her book The Way to Cook talks about butterflying chicken for a handsome presentation.  Whether you call it butterflying or spatchcocking, it involves removing the backbone and flattening the bird.  It allows for more even cooking.

The exception to the French influence in this particular recipe are the seasonings and sauce.  I found the recipe in an issue of Food and Wine.   It is spiced with smoked paprika, garlic and oregano and then served with a Chimicurri Sauce.

It would be equally delicious with herbes de Provence and a sauce with rosemary and tarragon.  Bon appetit!


For 2 small chickens:
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 3-pound chickens, backbones cut out


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Marinate the Chicken:  In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the chickens.  Set the chickens breast sides up on a rimmed baking sheet.  Flatten the birds, fold the wing tips under and arrange the thighs next to the breasts.  Make 2 slashes in the breasts and 1 slash in the legs and thighs.  Rub with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.  Bring to room temperature before grilling.

Make the Chimichurri:  In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients.

Light a grill.  Cover 2 bricks with foil.  Grill the chickens breast sides down, pressed with the bricks, over moderate heat until browned, 15 minutes.  Flip and grill over low heat until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, about 25 minutes longer.  Transfer the chickens to a carving board to rest for 10 minutes.  Carve and serve, passing the chimichurri at the table.

Printable recipe

12 responses to “Chicken Under a Brick”

  1. I have always wanted to try this way of grilling chicken. The well browned crispy skin is our favorite part. I hope we have some dry days soon so we can bring out the grill. You are going to have such fun in that lovely kitchen, Penny. The restored home you will be staying in looks very comfortable.

  2. Susan says:

    This is a fun way to grill chicken. Penny, I am so anxious to hear about your stay in this lovely restored barn. I know you will enjoy every minute. Susan

  3. Pondside says:

    I have seen recipes for this way of cooking a chicken, but have never tried it. I will follow your directions and give this a go – I’ve never had a failed meal from one of your recipes!

  4. What a lovey presentation Penny. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked chicken this way. A must try now. I’m thrilled to hear that it will be French food for a while. Count me in!

    I’m anxious to hear all about your trip. It’s sounds like a dream come true.

  5. Big Dude says:

    It looks awesome Penny – I especially like the chimichurri. Are you guys a go for the blogger party.

  6. Carole says:

    Nice post. The Loire Valley is on my Top Ten Places I Have Visited

  7. Barbara says:

    I’m excited for you, Penny. Loved the photos and will save the link.
    This chicken recipe looks wonderful…keep the French recipes coming!

  8. Rita says:

    What a great post! I have been wanting to make this for a long time. our weather is finally turning around so I will try it. Your trip sounds fantastic!

  9. In Florida, but have a moment to blog. This looks wonderful and I am looking forward to your French recipes….

  10. Theaterdog says:

    Thanks for the compliments, I look forward to meeting you during your stay here in Lerner.
    I am the other owner of the gite who uses google!
    After seeing this I am suddenly hungry 🙂

    Soon, Tim

  11. Robin Sue says:

    This makes me really look forward to hearing about your trip this summer. The place you have chosen is wonderful. Spatchcocking is one of my favorite ways to get chicken in my family fast!

  12. I don’t have a brick handy, but I’m going to get one just so I can try this technique. I hope you have an amazing trip in France.

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