Chicken Under a Brick

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 24h 45m

Makes 4 servings

This great dish of Lucca, Italy, is always made with the best olive oil available. I weigh down the chickens with a cast-iron pan and a couple of big rocks. The only problem is that handling the hot, heavy pan takes a steady, strong wrist, so use two hands. The effort is well worth it: This is the simplest and best method for producing a beautiful, crisp-skinned bird.


  • One whole 3- to 4-pound chicken, trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, plus 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, quartered


Remove the backbone and split the chicken. Mix together the rosemary leaves, salt, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rub this all over the chicken. Tuck some of it under the skin as well. Allow to marinate, if time permits, for up to a day, refrigerated.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Preheat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Press the rosemary sprigs if you are using them into the skin of the chicken. Put the remaining olive oil in the pan and wait a minute for it to heat up. Place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down, along with any pieces of rosemary and garlic. Weigh down the chicken with another skillet or use a flat pot cover and a couple of bricks or rocks. The basic idea is to flatten the chicken by applying a fair amount of weight evenly over its surface.

Cook over medium-high to high heat for 10 minutes; transfer, still weighted, to the oven. Roast for 15 minutes more. Take the chicken from the oven and remove the weight; turn the chicken over (it will now be skin-side up) and roast 10 minutes more. To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; it should read 160 degrees F to 165 degrees F. Serve hot or at room temperature (refrigerate it if you will not be serving it within the hour), with lemon wedges.

Tip: I specify rosemary here, which is delicious. But most herbs are equally wonderful. Try savory or dill (in similar quantity), parsley, basil, chervil, chives (use twice as much), tarragon, marjoram or thyme (use half as much).

Recipe reprinted by permission of Macmillan. All rights reserved.

RecID 3252

nutrition information per serving

454 calories; 11g total fat; 197mg cholesterol; 1386mg sodium; 4g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 79g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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