A common brick wrapped in tinfoil sits atop a split chicken in a scalding hot 20-inches-or-so-wide cast-iron skillet. Getting this thing into, or out of, a 500-degree oven seems a daunting task given the heft and heat, but veteran NFL offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse does it deftly, and practically one-handed. This ain’t his first rodeo, and he’s quite literally made a career of using his hands swiftly and strongly in restricted spaces.
Currently playing for the Buffalo Bills, Newhouse has bounced around throughout his 8-year career. “But every place I’ve lived, I’m like: I want to end up back in Texas,” he says. When Newhouse recently decided the time had come to purchase a home away from New York, Austin beckoned. He’d been coming here since high school—having grown up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. A few close friends and Texas Christian University-alum teammates had settled here earlier, too. So, Newhouse made the move official in January—giving him at least a little time to get situated before training camp resurfaced in the summer.
His schedule may not always allow it, but Newhouse clearly enjoys cooking. Today, in his appropriately modern-minimalist South Austin place, the kitchen has begun to feel lived-in even if the start of his Bills’ tenure looms. (His fondness for beloved local institution Ace Mart doesn’t hurt on that front.) The grind of an NFL season doesn’t leave much time for this—between practices and meetings, a 13-hour day is pretty common. Eating out and ordering in become necessities at times. No matter where he’s played, though, Newhouse has always loved learning about the local culture and cuisine—while playing for Green Bay, he enjoyed fried cheese curds; when he was with the Giants, he had the best omakase of his life; and being a Bengal introduced him to Cincinnati chili served over spaghetti and topped with beans, onions and cheese. These days in Buffalo, he’s pretty familiar with those famous wings at the Anchor Bar, too.
The love for variety is what inspires Newhouse to spend as much off-season time as he can in the kitchen. Both his mom and dad cooked when he was young (likely had to; Newhouse jokes that he and his brother regularly ate the family out of their cabinets), and the family staples mirrored Texas ones: smoked brisket, ribs and a German chocolate cake that left Newhouse with a lifelong sweet tooth. “I wish it wasn’t true for life after retirement,” he says with a laugh.
None of that appears on this afternoon’s menu, however. Newhouse typically takes his cooking inspiration from something he sees on a restaurant menu or in any of the food television shows he keeps up with (he’s a lifelong Alton Brown follower with a soft spot for Emeril and Anthony Bourdain). The blueberry cobbler may borrow a little from Newhouse family desserts, but the brick chicken started when he saw Aziz Ansari mention it online. Newhouse attempted it for the first time two off-seasons ago; now he confidently breaks down the bird and executes the multi-heat cooking technique as effortlessly as he might perform a pull block.
He notes his prized kitchen tool is an Aura chef’s knife he acquired while living in the Bay Area. “It’s honestly so much muscle memory,” he says, to deflect from a bit of knife-skills praise. “I grew up watching cooking shows, and even to my surprise I was just picking up stuff. Like, how did I even realize how to do that?”
As you’d expect from someone who meticulously researches and preps for game day, the meal is casually excellent. The brick ensures an even sear on the chicken skin and the hot oven keeps the meat juicy and perfectly cooked. He embraced his freelance tendencies a tad with the dessert—opting for a more biscuit-y, less rigid crust dolloped on top instead of premade pie dough for the cobbler.
While he soon has to leave behind some of these tastes for now, a bit of food-related trivia does still follow him everywhere he goes. During his high school days, Newhouse decided to sign up for what felt like every club knowing that it’d look good on college applications. Among them, two now appear in virtually every profile, from his TCU player page to a recent interview with ESPN: Horticulture club and Japanese club. He remembers attending perhaps one meeting between the two of them, but this smidge of truth may have oddly grown more valid over the years. After all, one day he envisions his backyard sporting both a lemon and a lime tree, and he admits that Japan is high on his culinary bucket list. He wants to pick up a proper kitchen knife there, too.
By Nathan Matisse • Photography by Nathan Beels
Update: Marshall Newhouse was traded to the Carolina Panthers in late September.