Tuscan Lemon + Rosemary Chicken under a brick

The Italians love to grill over hardwood. In the summertime, they typically cook over an open fire pit just off the kitchen. In the winter, they place a grill in their fireplace. {I have never seen a gas grill in Italy!} . One of the most interesting grilling techniques I have seen in Italy is cooking poultry under a brick. The Italians call this method of cooking under a brick "al mattone". Whether you use an actual brick or not is not important. The idea is to flatten out the chicken so the skin gets a nice crispy texture and the meat cooks fast and stays tender, juicy and moist. It's really easy from start to finish and a great staple for the seasonal summer menu repetoire.


1 whole chicken, preferably organic + free range
4 wedges preserved lemons
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon crushed pepperocini chili flakes
1/2 Tablespoon sea salt
1/8 Tablespoon cracked black pepper

Cut the chicken lengthwise through the breast bone {versus down the back} or have your butcher prepare it for you. {The butchers at Whole Foods are great at these kinds of things and are usually very glad to help.} To prepare the marinade for the chicken, place the lemons, garlic, rosemary and olive oil in a blender. Blend the ingredients on low speed, just until coarsely chopped. Refrigerate until ready to use. {This can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.}

To prepare the marinated chicken, open up the chicken and place in a shallow platter,skin side down. Rub the chicken with 1/3 of the marinade. Season with 1/2 of the chili flakes, salt, pepper. Turn the chicken over and rub the remaining 2/3 marinade over the chicken to coat the skin. Season with the rest of the chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, prepare your fire for the grill. The fire should be hot, but the flames should have subsided.
Place flattened chicken on grill, skin side up. Make sure it is placed on a lower heat side of the grill, as you don’t want the chicken to burn before it is thoroughly cooked.
Top with tinfoil covered bricks {you will need about two} or a heavy weight lid or ceramic platter to flatten the chicken. {a cast iron pan will work nicely}.

Cook about 8-10 minutes. Carefully remove bricks, turn the chicken over and cook on the other side, placing bricks back on top of the chicken. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes. The skin should be lightly charred and the chicken should be flattened. Test the temperature at the thigh if you are unsure about the doneness. The temperature should be about 160 degrees.

Carefully remove from the grill and let rest 5-10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve with fresh lemon wedges.

Serves 4.

I especially like cooking this recipe over the hard wood Tuscan grill because it add so much flavor to the dish. The high heat creates a crispy-textured skin. The hard wood adds lots of flavor throughout the entire chicken. This is a great recipe for easy entertaining, too. {p.s. great father's day gift!}

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry

1 comment:

Kathy said...

OMGGGGGGGG... This is incredible! Sold!