Grilled Chicken Under Bricks
Every grill jockey needs a couple of showstoppers--dishes so outrageously theatrical, you will gain instant respect and admiration when you make them. American pit bosses have devised one such eyepopper: beer-can chicken. Another also involves chicken and it comes from Italy: pollo al mattone, chicken grilled under a brick. Two of Italys most serious food cities claim parentage of this simple technique: Rome and Florence. And with good reason! It looks great. It tastes great. And the weight of the brick gives you killer 3-D grill marks--which makes this a perfect barbecue dish.
If using whole breasts, cut each in half. Trim any sinews or excess fat off the chicken breasts and discard. Rinse the breasts under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the breasts on both sides with the salt, cracked black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes. Sprinkle the breasts with the garlic and rosemary, patting them on with your fingers. Arrange the breasts in a non-reactive baking dish. Pour the lemon juice and oil over them and let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning several times.
Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. In the best of all worlds, you'd build your fire with oak chunks. Alternatively, use gas or charcoal, plus soaked wood chips for smoke. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat until you see smoke.
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. If using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. Arrange the chicken breasts on the hot grate, all facing the same direction, at a 45 degree angle to the bars of the grate. Place a brick on top of each. Grill the breasts until cooked, 4 to 6 minutes per side, rotating the breasts 90 degrees after 2 minutes on each side to create an attractive cross-hatch of the grill marks. To test for doneness, poke a breast in the thickest part with your finger. It should feel firm to the touch. Transfer the breasts to plates or a platter and serve at once.
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