Iron-Pressed Chicken

By Marcus Samuelsson |

I like to think about a grandma putting her sad iron to use, pressing down on the chicken, making sure the skin made good contact with the skillet. It’s a cool idea, right? But you don’t need an iron. Another skillet or a couple of bricks—either will work to give you moist chicken with incredibly crisp skin.

Don’t feel obliged to use just sage for this chicken. It could be thyme, it could be rosemary—it could be lavender.


Prep Details

Servings: 4

Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes


1 (3-pound) chicken

Leaves from 2 sprigs sage

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

2 cups water

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil


  1. Use kitchen shears to cut the back out of the chicken. Turn the bird over and press down to crack the backbone. Loosen the skin of the chicken and slide sage leaves under the skin, along the thigh and the breast. Season all over with the salt and put in a 1-gallon zip-top bag. Pour in the water and lemon juice and seal the bag, squeezing out the air. Leave it on the counter for 1 hour, turning it over after 30 minutes.

  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat completely dry, then set it in the skillet, skin side down. Wrap the bottom of a cast-iron skillet with aluminum foil and set it on the chicken to weight it. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove the weight, turn the chicken over, and cook until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F, about 20 minutes.

  3. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into quarters and serving.