Here’s a grilling showstopper: chicken under a brick. This easy – yet impressive – recipe is the perfect choice for your end-of-summer backyard parties.
Known in Italian as pollo al mattone, chicken under a brick involves prepping the chicken so it lies flat and grilling it skin-side down with a weight on top. Because it is flat, the chicken will grill fast, and yield crisp, golden brown skin and evenly cooked meat. Read on and learn the easy method for this tender and juicy chicken.
The first step to making chicken under a brick is to spatchcock it, which means to remove the backbone. This can be easily done with kitchen shears.
Start with a smaller chicken (about 3-3.5 pounds). To get the chicken to lie flat, you will need to remove the backbone. First place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone. Remove and discard the backbone (or save it for making stock). Open up the bird slightly.
At the top of the breastbone, you will see a small piece of white cartilage. Make a small vertical cut into the cartilage, about 1/2-inch long. Bend the chicken halves backward, and the breastbone will start to pop out. Remove it with a paring knife. The chicken should now be able to lie completely flat. Trim away any lumps of fat. You can choose to cut off the wings or tuck them under so they don’t burn.
Mix together a simple marinade of fresh herbs (e.g., rosemary, thyme, or tarragon), chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Rub over both sides of the chicken. Tuck some fresh herbs under the skin for a pretty presentation and even more flavor. Let the bird marinate in the refrigerator anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
Grilling the Chicken
Start the bird on the hottest part of the grill skin-side down. Weigh the chicken down with a couple of bricks wrapped in foil. If you don’t have bricks, use a heavy cast-iron pan. Wrapping the weights in foil will help with clean-up, and protect your chicken. Grill for 15 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
Remove the weights and turn the chicken over, transfer to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Place the bricks on top again.
To test for doneness, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; the thermometer should read 165 degrees F. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Serve the chicken with a salad topped with shaved fennel and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a loaf of fresh bread. Or try our Panzanella-style salad with bacon!