Ingredients Jump to Instructions ↓

  1. Chickens sufficient to feed your party

  2. The herbs of choice (see below).

  3. Clean bricks or non-porous blocks of stone (Italians often use small basalt blocks of the sort used as paving stones instead of bricks -- you don't want a porous rock such as a sandstone that has absorbed moisture, because it could crumble or even explode)

Instructions Jump to Ingredients ↑

  1. In introducing the recipe in La Cucina Toscana, Giovanni Righi Parenti says it's extremely old: Frescoes depicting what appears to be a grill with a chicken being flattened by a stone occur in Etruscan tombs. How to proceed?

  2. Clean the bird, chop off the neck (many Italian chickens still come with neck and head attached), and split it up the breast, then press it flat and pound it well with the flat of a thick-bladed knife, as if you were pounding a cutlet. Make a rub by mincing a few leaves of sage, one or two cloves of garlic, salt, abundant freshly ground black pepper, and a little red pepper. Rub the rub into the meat, rub it with abundant olive oil, and set it aside until you are ready to grill it (if you do this do this the day before, letting it marinate in the oil, you won't have to baste as you grill). Once the coals are ready -- you want them hot but not searingly hot -- lay the bird over them and place a well-cleaned brick over it to help keep it flat. Use a potholder to lift the brick when it's time to turn the bird over.

  3. Mr. Parenti suggests 15-20 minutes' cooking time, which in my experience isn't enough -- I often grill chicken for close to an hour. Exactly how long you do cook the bird will depend upon its size and the heat of the fire; it will be done when you sick a skewer into the wing joint and the juices run clear. Mr. Parenti also notes that if you do not marinate the bird in olive oil, you will have to baste it with olive oil repeatedly as it cooks lest it dry out.

  4. Note: Someone recently asked me about a commercially prepared "brick," which, in the company's website, turns out to be a fancy circular terracotta weight. You can of course use such an instrument if you want, but a clean brick will work just as well, as will a clean stone of similar size and weight. As I said above, Laura's father used basalt blocks, and basalt cobblestones are the weights of choice in Rome A wine? Red; a lively Chianti Colli Fiorentini would be nice, as would a zesty unoaked Barbera D'Asti .

  5. A Quick Answer to Pacepuleo:

  6. To be honest, I think that if the stone or brick is clean at the outset, there's no need to wrap it in foil. A non-porous stone can simply be wiped clean after it has cooled. To remove the grease from a brick, you can simply set it in the coals with the side that squashed the chicken down. Most of grease will burn away, and when it has cooled you can put it in a plastic bag and set it aside for the next time.

  7. Kyle Phillips, Your Guide to Italian Cooking


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