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image: the minimalist cooks at home
updated 10/1/2005 9:31:11 PM ET 2005-10-02T01:31:11

Fall’s arrival means a new set of produce on the grocer’s shelves. Butternut squash is one mainstay of the season and can be made into a hearty soup. Mark Bittman, author of the newly revised edition of his award-winning cookbook, “The Minimalist Cooks at Home,” shares his recipes for butternut squash soup and chicken under a brick.

Recipe: CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK (on this page) Recipe: BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP (on this page)

Excerpted from “The Minimalist Cooks at Home” by Mark Bittman. Copyright © 2002 by Mark Bittman. Published by Broadway Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.


  • 1 whole 3- to 4-pound chicken, trimmed of excess fat, rinsed, dried, and split, backbone removed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, if available
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters

Time: 45 minutes

Place the chicken on a cutting board, skin side down, and press down as hard as you can with your hands to make it as flat as possible. Mix together the rosemary leaves, salt, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rub this all over the chicken. Tuck some of the mixture under the skin as well. If time permits, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to a day (even 20 minutes of marinating is helpful).

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Preheat an ovenproof 12-inch skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Press the rosemary sprigs into the skin side of the chicken. Put the remaining olive oil in the pan and wait about 30 seconds for it to heat up.

Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, along with any remaining pieces of rosemary and garlic; weight it with another skillet or one or two bricks or rocks, wrapped in aluminum foil. 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 5 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the weights; turn the chicken over (it will now be skin side up) and roast 10 minutes more, or until done (large chickens may take an additional 5 minutes or so). Serve hot or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 pounds peeled butternut squash or other winter squash (weighed after peeling)
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken or other stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Time: 40 minutes

Place the pumpkin or squash in a saucepan with stock to cover and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and adjust the heat so that the mixture simmers. Cook until the pumpkin or squash is very tender, about 30 minutes. If time allows, cool.

Place the mixture, in batches if necessary, in the container of a blender and puree until smooth. (The recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance up to this point; cool, place in a covered container, and refrigerate.) Reheat, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings


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