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chicken under a brick

I was thrilled when I got the assignment to photograph the recipe “Chicken Under a Brick” for the November issue of Sacramento Magazine.  I’ve been intrigued by this method of cooking chicken since I first saw it on a cooking show a few years ago and crispy chicken is one of my faves!


prepping the mustard greens and garlic



remove backbone and ribcage from a whole chicken and flatten by applying firm pressure with hands


season chicken generously with salt and pepper



We didn’t have a foil-wrapped brick for the shoot and Chef quickly improvised.  To prevent from being burned by spattering oil and an alternative to using his hands, a large metal bowl was filled with water and placed in the top pan to add the extra weight needed. The pressure or use of a brick is the key to keeping as much of the chicken on the pan’s heated surface which results in the desired crispy skin.

While I’m accustomed to wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen thanks to my significant other/quasi-chef Cory (mr c), there is something about the smell of butter in a pan that makes this girl go weak in the knees. Add to that the sizzling, crackling of chicken skin browning and sunchokes roasting in the oven – oh the deliciousness of it all!


Apples were peeled, cored, sliced and then sauteed in the cider reduction and brown butter.  The sauteed apples were used for plating the chicken and while a decorative and flavorful addition, were not included in the published recipe.
A true story – many years ago I was talking with a friend about how to get her young son to eat his vegetables and I suggested she top them with brown butter bread crumbs, a staple in our house when I was growing up. I kid you not – my mother could have topped liver and onions (gross, disgusting, ewww!!!) with brown butter bread crumbs and my plate would have been licked clean.  Anyhow – I continued to explain to my friend how easy brown butter bread crumbs were to make: add saltine cracker crumbs to brown butter, mix well with a fork and and then generously sprinkle  this “whole lot of goodness” on the top of broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever veggie you are trying to get your kids to eat.  After pondering my suggestion for a moment, my dear friend stared me straight in the eye and asked, “Where do you buy brown butter?”  Oh my goodness, seriously?  Well, picture a devil on one shoulder, the angel on the other bantering back and forth and without missing a beat I replied, “Trader Joes of course!”


slicing the roasted sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)

I never heard of Jerusalem artichokes before and from the name, thought they may be related to the artichoke. Living in Northern California for 20+ years, I look forward to the arrival of Globe artichokes in the market and have been known to trek to nearby Castroville in lovely Monterey County for a box.  After researching sunchokes however, I learned they are not related to the artichoke, although both are part of the daisy family. Who knew?  I can’t say I’ve ever noticed sunchokes in the market, not that I would have looked for them or even known what to look for! After sampling a bite, I would describe them as an “artichoke that melts in your mouth.”  They have the texture and similiar flavor to artichoke hearts but without all the pulling of leaves and removal of pesky fibers (choke) that comes with eating the globe variety. If I can have just as much flavor in a food but don’t have to work as hard for something so tasty, then I’m all for it.  Being a tuber, sunchokes are typically prepared roasted or simmered.


chicken browned to perfection – it’s a beautiful thing…


chicken under a brick served with sunchokes, greens and brown butter-apple jus

Oh and I did end up divulging the truth of brown butter to my dear friend before she made her weekly trip to Trader Joe’s and no, I didn’t tell her it comes from chocolate cows…


recipe:  chicken under a brick with sunchokes, greens and apple brown butter  (by Chef Mark Liberman)

Serves: 2


1 lb sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), washed and scrubbed
5 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch mustard greens, destemmed, torn in 1” pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 whole chicken, 3-4 lb, halved, backbone & ribcage removed
1/3 cup fresh apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Toss sunchokes with 2 tablespoons canola oil and salt and toss to coat. Roast on a sheet tray for approximately 35-40 minutes or until tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add mustard greens to boiling water and cook, uncovered, for about 6-8 minutes tender. Remove from pot and place in ice water, then drain and pat with paper towels. In a medium sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat, add garlic cook for 1 minute. Add mustard greens and cook for 6-10 minutes, add roasted sunchokes season with salt, and turn off the heat.

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat remaining oil in a 10″ skillet over high heat, add the chicken halves to skillet skin-side down. Place another skillet, right side up, on top of chicken and gently place a heavy brick in the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and cook chicken until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 18 minutes. Remove the top skillet, turn the chicken and pour off excess fat. Add the apple cider and vinegar and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chicken’s thigh registers 160°F, about 3 more minutes. Remove chicken and let rest. In a small pot, add butter and cook until light brown, then remove from heat and strain the cider reduction into the warm butter. Season sauce with salt and more vinegar to taste.

Cut each chicken half into 4 pieces. Place mustard greens and sunchokes on plate, top with the chicken and serve with brown butter-apple jus.

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