Chicken Under a Brick

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Grilling a butterflied chicken under a brick is a great way to get crispy skin every time. The brick weighs down the chicken, ensuring good grill marks. If you don’t have a brick, use a heavy cast iron pan.


  • 1 Tbs. fennel seeds 
  • 1 Tbs. white peppercorns  
  • 1 lemon 
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage or 1 Tbs. dried sage 
  • 1 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh thyme or 2 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 1 Tbs. granulated garlic 
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder 
  • 1 Tbs. coarse salt  
  • 1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 lb., neck, giblets and wing tips removed, and chicken butterflied 
  • Olive oil or duck fat for brushing 


In a dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds and peppercorns until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely. Pour the spices into a spice grinder or blender and process into a coarse powder.

Using a microplane grater, grate the zest from the lemon; halve the fruit and reserve. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest, toasted spice mixture, sage, thyme, garlic, chili powder and salt.

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan and rub the bird all over with the spice-herb mixture; reserve any extra rub to season the chicken again right before grilling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling and pat dry with paper towels.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. Wrap a brick in 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and preheat over the hottest part of the fire. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Squeeze 1 of the reserved lemon halves over the chicken and brush with olive oil. Season the chicken with any remaining spice-herb mixture.

Place the chicken, skin side down, on the cooler side of the grill. Place the prepared brick on top of the chicken, cover the grill and cook until chicken is nicely grill-marked, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the brick and move the chicken, still skin side down, directly over the hottest part of the fire. Replace the brick, cover the grill and cook until the chicken is nicely charred, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the chicken over, replace the brick and grill until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).

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