There are as many ways to brick a chicken as there are to roast one. The graduate-level chicken cooks among us will prefer to either fully or partially (rib cage and thigh bone only) debone the bird, which allows a greater surface area for browning opportunities. But let’s ease into this. All you need to get this right is a pair of kitchen shears, a brick (or a frying pan with a few cans of soup placed on top of it), a 12-inch skillet, some patience, and a stove. The key is keeping the stovetop on a medium flame, so you slowly render the skin, allowing it to brown and crisp without burning. That slow render (about 45 minutes) at a lower temperature makes for about a cup of usable chicken fat. In an ode to Marlow & Sons, which serves their beloved brick chicken atop a shallow pool of stock, I carve mine and serve it atop a warm vinaigrette built from that chicken fat.
- Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board with the legs facing toward you. Using kitchen shears, cut up along each side of the backbone to remove it.
- Flip the chicken over and press down on the breastbone with the heels of your hand to flatten the chicken to an even thickness with the legs. (It will not go flush, but get it as close as you can.)
- Pat the chicken dry and generously salt it on both sides. Set it aside for at least 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Wrap an 8-by-4-inch brick in foil and set it aside. The weight should be at least 5 pounds. (If you don’t have a brick, you can also use a frying pan with a few cans of soup or a free weight.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Place the chicken in the pan breast-side down, with the breast and wings flush against one side of the pan and the legs resting just slightly over the lip of the other side of the pan. (Once the chicken is in the pan, do not move it around, or you risk tearing the skin. After the fat begins to render, the skin will release a bit, and you will have an opportunity to rearrange it.)
- Place the brick on top of the chicken, lengthwise down the center. Cook until the skin is golden brown, about 45 minutes, repositioning the brick every 5 minutes to ensure even browning and compression. (Resist the temptation to turn the heat up. You are slowly rendering, not searing.)
- Remove the brick and, using tongs, gently flip the chicken over in the pan and place it in the oven until it’s cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Pour the remaining fat from the pan into a bowl and set it aside. (You should have about 1/2 cup.)
- Remove any crispy bits from the pan and wipe it clean. Place the skillet over low heat and add the reserved chicken fat to the pan.
- Add the red wine vinegar and mustard, if desired, and stir to combine. Adjust to taste as needed. Set aside.
- Carve the chicken into 8 pieces, cutting the breasts in half.
- Transfer the warm vinaigrette to the base of a shallow serving bowl and arrange the chicken on top. Serve family style, and dip—then double-dip—as you go.
Talia Baiocchi is the Editor in Chief of PUNCH and TASTE and the author of the James Beard Award-nominated Sherry (Ten Speed Press) and co-author of Spritz (Ten Speed Press). She has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Saveur, Bon Appétit and Elle, among many others. She has a degree in journalism and political science from New York University and has been featured in numerous publications, including Forbes as a member of the magazine’s 2013 “30 under 30” list. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.