« Phasing Out Social Security | Main | Markdown: This Looks Truly Useful »

February 27, 2005


"We went to Chez Panisse for lunch last week."

"Ah! The rough life of a Berkeley professor."

"The dish they were pushing was chicken-under-a-brick. But i told them my wife had made it just a couple of weeks ago."

"Did you tell them that what I made was actually chicken-under-a-cast-iron-Le-Creuset-casserole weighted with three soup cans?"


"That would have given them their opening. 'Well, sir, be assured that at this restaurant, our chicken-under-a-brick is made with real bricks...'"

"Real bricks, made by hand by the artisan brickmakers of Sonoma County..."

"'Sonoma County? You jest, sir! Alameda County. Those who lose big at the local Indian casinos must work off their debt by gathering dung and straw from Shattuck Avenue to hand-make adobe Mission bricks...'"

Posted by DeLong at February 27, 2005 01:50 PM


Personally, I prefer "Sh*t on a Shingle."

If bricks are too hard to come by, I'd highly recommend "Chicken on a Can," aka Beer Can Chicken*:

1) Pack chicken inside and out with spices

2) Lower the chicken onto a greased half-drunk can of beer so that the beer can ends up "where the sun didn't use to shine." The legs and beer can should form a tripod so the chicken will sit upright. Put hickory chips in the beer beforehand if you'd like.

3) "Seat" the chicken on your grill, cover and grill for 1 hr. (again, use hickory chips if preferred--flavor will be very strong).

Best chicken you ever had - crispy skin, the white meat is as tender as dark meat, and the dark meat is like pulled pork. The flavor of the spices permeates the meat--it's like reverse pressure cooking. And none of the pink meat you often get when grilling chicken at home.

*aka "Glad it's dead chicken"

Posted by: Adam M at February 27, 2005 02:17 PM


The Way We Eat: Tex Macs

If you walk into Chipotle on 34th Street in Manhattan at lunchtime, you will have to wait in line. Behind a counter, workers assemble burritos and tacos -- and nothing else -- in an impressively streamlined production line. Fresh tortillas are heated on a griddle, then piled with fillings like rice flecked with fresh cilantro, naturally raised Niman Ranch pork and organic beans. Burritos, good-tasting if bulky, are rolled by the hundred. The riotous crowd of lunchgoers sits at steel-topped tables on plywood chairs; rock music pours from speakers.

It's not just a busy day in a busy city restaurant; it's also a chance to witness -- and taste -- a shift in American fast food. This past week, Chipotle opened its 419th store, on Varick Street in Manhattan. Nearly a hundred more will open this year. And while this may be a triumph for the increasing number of diners interested in healthful, sustainable food, there is a strange twist: Chipotle's majority investor is McDonald's.

To some people, it might seem like justice that a progenitor of trans fats would appear to be repenting for its supersize sins, but it's not. ''Fast casual'' restaurants like Chipotle, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Panera Bread have experienced steady growth over the past few years. McDonald's may be simply hedging its bets against its own seemingly bleak future.

Just a few years ago, the lone hope for fast food was In-N-Out Burger, a small West Coast chain that has acted as a model of what fast food can be -- made of wholesome ingredients, freshly but quickly prepared. It was the anti-McDonald's, but it has remained a wee competitor, with just 189 locations, compared with the 13,700 McDonald's in America. Good fast food, it seemed, simply couldn't compete with the giants. And yet, In-N-Out won many fans, including Steve Ells, the C.E.O. of Chipotle. Ells started Chipotle in 1993 after working as a line cook at Stars in San Francisco. Smitten with the local taquerias, Ells opened the first shop in Denver.

Chipotle (pronounced, like the dried, smoked jalapeƱo, chi-POAT-lay) was an unexpected hit.

Posted by: anne at February 27, 2005 03:22 PM

That chickenunderabrick recipe you gave says:

"Marinate the chicken in the mixture for 1 hour, covered in the refrigerator."

This is truly a feat! Refrigerators are heavy! I guess they wanted the chicken really, really flat. Do we have to use the refrigerator, though? I'm sure my leftovers would spill out of their dishes.

Posted by: Mandos at February 27, 2005 03:45 PM

Brad, forget chicken under the brick.
You and your wife should go on weekend comedy circuit.

Posted by: ecoast at February 27, 2005 05:18 PM

This dish actually does cook better with a brick--or rather, two bricks, one for each half-chicken. Any bricks will do, as long as they're heavy. Wrap them in foil for easy cleanup.

I know: I've tried doing it with another heavy skillet (traps too much moisture) and with random flat rocks (not dense enough).

When not in use, the bricks keep the plastic cover from blowing off our Weber grill. Very handy.

Posted by: Bob Killingsworth at February 27, 2005 05:33 PM

Chipotle is nasty: their burritos look like they have tumors and probably weigh more than the brick that chicken was squashed under. I have a hard time believing it was inspired by In-N-Out.

Posted by: Kieran at February 27, 2005 06:16 PM

It might be a fresher tasting alternative to Micky D's, but don't be fooled into thinking there's anything healthful about Chipotles. One of their "barbacoa" burritos contains almost 1300 calories and 3/4 the daily recommended amount of saturated fats.

Yes. In and out burgers are quality. Another chain I wish where more wide-spread is Steak and shake. Although I guess it's more diner than fast food.

Posted by: battlepanda at February 27, 2005 06:53 PM

You can buy chicken flatties in the grocery stores in South Africa.

It is a whole, uncooked chicken, splayed out like it stopped in the middle of the road to ponder and ended up as roadkill. The thickness of the falttie is relatively uniform, which is ideal for the intended preparation on a grill.

I wish we had them here, especially the peri-peri flatties (a hot chile marinade).

Posted by: Ottnott at February 27, 2005 09:22 PM

Anyone have a recipe for chickenhawk-under-a-concrete-slab?

I hear the meat is kind of fatty, but it's pretty easy on the wallet.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at February 28, 2005 12:43 AM

Posted by: at March 14, 2005 02:15 PM