Method: Direct grilling
Cooking time: 8 to 12 minutes
Advance Prep: 30 minutes to 1 hour for marinating the chicken
Every grill jockey needs a couple of showstoppers— dishes so outrageously theatrical you'll gain instant respect and admiration when you make them. American pit bosses have derived one such eye-popper: pollo al mattone from Italy, or chicken under a brick. The weight of the brick gives you killer 3-D grill marks, making this a perfect barbecue dish. Steven Raichlen shares his simple recipe from How To Grill for this dynamic dish.
You will need:
4 bricks, each wrapped in aluminum foil; oak chunks for building the fire, or 2 cups wood chips (preferably oak), soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then drained.
2 large, whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(12 to 16 ounces each) or 4 half breasts (each half 6 to 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Wrap four bricks in aluminum foil. That way you don't have to scrub them clean.
Put a brick on top of each chicken breast. Rotate the breasts 45 degrees to create handsome grill marks after 2 minutes. Wear grill mitts when lifting the bricks.
How To Grill
The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques
By Steven Raichlen
Workman Publishing, May 2001
Hardcover: $35.00, Paperback: $19.95
512 pages, full-color photographs throughout
ISBN: 0-7611-2482-9 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-7611-2014-9 (Paperback)
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created September 2001
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