Grilled Chicken Under a Brick

Grilled Chicken Under a Brick

Remember I told you I had butterflied a chicken and was planning on grilling it under a brick?  Well now I’ll show you how I did it.

As I mentioned the other day, Pollo al Mattone, or Chicken Under a Brick is a Tuscan style of grilling chicken.  The chicken cooks quickly since it is flattened under the weight of the brick and you end up with crispy delicious skin and juicy, perfectly cooked meat.  What more could one want from a chicken?

My first step was to marinate the chicken with olive oil and herbs.  You can use any combination of herbs you like, I just used a simple mixture of garlic and rosemary.  First I stripped the leaves from 5 or 6 sprigs of rosemary (about 1/3 cup loosely packed) and peeled six cloves of garlic.

Fresh Rosemary and Garlic for Chicken Marinade

I could have finely chopped everything by hand, but the lazy person inside of me decided a mini food processor was the way to go!

Fresh Rosemary and Garlic in Food Processor

A few seconds later, I ended up with finely chopped rosemary and garlic!  If you don’t have a mini food processor, just chop everything up by hand and/or pound it with a mortar and pestle.

Rosemary and Garlic Paste

Next, I stirred in about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.

Rosemary and Garlic with Olive Oil

Now for the chicken!  If you’ve never butterflied a chicken, watch this video.  See how easy it is?  After cutting the chicken, I rinsed it and patted it dry with paper towels.

Butterflied or Spatchcocked Chicken

I also folded the wings under the bird so that the tips won’t burn on the grill.

Tucking Wings under the Bird

Here is the inside of my beautifully butterflied bird. Doesn’t it make you want to rub oil all over it?

Butterflied or Spatchcocked Chicken - The Flip Side

I thought so!  I poured about half of the marinade over the inside of the chicken.

Pour Rosemary Garlic Oil Over the Chicken

Then rubbed it all over, making sure to coat every single part of the bird.

Rub the Rosemary Garlic Oil All Over the Bird

Next I flipped it over and rubbed the remaining marinade all over the outside of the chicken.  After the entire chicken is well-coated with the rosemary-garlic oil, you can cover the whole pan with plastic wrap or slip the chicken into a large plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator.  Try to let it sit for at least a few hours.

Flip the Bird Over and Rub Marinade on the Outside

When you’re ready to grill the chicken, take it out of the fridge and rub some lemon juice all over it.  Right before it goes on the grill, sprinkle both sides liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Prepare your grill (gas or charcoal) for direct medium-low heat.  Allow as much marinade as possible to drip off the chicken before placing it on the grill.  Put the chicken on the grill skin side down and watch for flare-ups.  You may need to move the chicken around a bit until the flare-ups die down.  Once the flare-ups stop, put two foil-covered bricks directly on top of the chicken and allow to cook undisturbed for 15 minutes.

Put Chicken on the Grill with Bricks

This is what my chicken looked like after 15 minutes:

Chicken Under a Brick after 15 Minutes

Remove the bricks from the chicken and carefully lift it up to check the skin.  The skin should be well-browned and crispy.  If so, it’s time to flip the bird!

Ready to Flip

Mine was a little more than well-browned when I flipped it over!  Ooooops!  But we’ll just pretend that it’s perfectly browned like the last one I grilled (and of course didn’t photograph).

When you flip it over, you don’t need to put the bricks back on the chicken.  Just let it finish cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees…it will probably only take about 10 minutes.  As you can see, I flipped the wings back up on top to keep them from burning.  Not sure if it’s necessary, but it was easy enough to do.

Burnt Skin

When it’s finished, let it rest for ten minutes before carving.  Then divide it up and enjoy!

Chicken Breast

You can use any marinade or rub you want with this chicken.  You could even brine it first if you want.  And if you don’t have time to marinate it at all, that’s fine, too.  Just rub it with oil and herbs right before you grill it.  Have fun!

Around the Web:

  1. The Italian Dish

    I love doing chicken this way. I have to have it once a week! Great photos of your method.

    5:25 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  2. nutritiontokitchen

    I think this looks more fun than roasting a whole chicken. Thanks for posting!!! Looks so tasty!

    5:28 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  3. Jojo

    Why do food bloggers insist on overloading their recipes with pictures? Could you edit yourself and include pictures only if they help convey how to do the recipe? Is that even possible?

    5:41 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  4. Tania

    I think your chicken looks delicious. And I don’t agree with Jojo at all! I love all the pictures. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    5:50 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  5. Marye

    Jojo…nope. Can’t be done. Have a great day.

    5:52 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  6. Nancy (n.o.e.)

    I love when chicken gets charred – shows it had some real grill-time, if you ask me! I’ve never spatchcocked a chicken, but yours looks so delicious, I may have to try it! Great process photos; I don’t have the patience…

    5:57 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  7. ATigerintheKitchen

    A) These pictures are gorgeous (as always, Nicole!). And B) As a kitchen klutz, I find step-by-step pictures like these incredibly helpful. If I’m screwing up or leaving something out at any step along the way, the pictures will correct me.

    I suspect you’re alone in your sentiments, Jojo …

    5:57 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  8. Alice Q. Foodie

    I loove my mini food processor – I still like to chop and use a mortar and pestle too – but it’s nice when you just need something quick!

    6:03 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  9. SandiT

    I think that every picture just makes it more clear as to how to follow the recipe and it shows just how delicious the food is. Don’t change a thing!

    6:04 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  10. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Your chicken looks great – I will definitely have to try this method for cooking chicken… Thanks for the photographs of the whole process!

    7:16 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  11. Foodiechick

    As the Beatles sang: “Get back Jojo!” The pictures make the post even more appetizing. Love cooking chicken this way, even turkeys.

    7:35 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  12. Amy

    I happen to love process pictures (as it seems like most of us do!) Keep up the great work, Nicole. This chicken looks delicious; I’ve never tried cooking it this way but I have it on the list to do (esp. because I love the names “chicken under a brick” and “spatchcocked chicken.”) 🙂

    7:43 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  13. Hélène

    Looks so amazingly good. I’ll make it soon.

    7:44 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  14. Janet

    Very cool way to cook chicken… and the pics are absolutely awesome!! For someone who has never heard of this way of cooking chicken before, I’d be lost without this many photos. Tsk, tsk, Jojo… the old saying “if you can’t say something nice…” very much applies here 😉

    8:05 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  15. Kalyn

    Looks delicious. I always wanted to cook chicken this way but haven’t done it. (And I do think *some* blogs have too many process photos, but yours is not one of them!)

    9:12 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  16. Lisa

    It looks absolutely delicious, but the food scientist in me is seeing a possible red flag. Please, for safety sake, never return the bricks onto the already cooked side, cause if you do, and I know you didn’t say to, if you do, please make sure to flip it over one last time to heat well again over the coals any meat touching the foil covered bricks as those bricks could recontaminate the cooked meat.

    I don’t know how many of you have ever had the “joy” (not) of Salmonellosis, but it isn’t nice and an even bigger concern would be Campylobactor jejuni, 2 weeks of bloody diarrhea. Be sure all material touching any juices of the raw chicken are always heated thoroughly.

    9:26 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  17. ATigerintheKitchen

    Wow…those are two words I never thought I’d see on a food blog: “bloody diarrhea” LOL.

    Thanks for the tip, Lisa…

    10:01 pm  Jul 18th, 2009
  18. Andy

    I’d never heard of cooking chicken this way but it looks great – and hey, don’t worry about the ‘crispy’ bits…. they are always the first bits to go at my dinner table!


    3:09 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  19. Susie

    JoJo needs to get better internet access. 🙂 I “LOVE” all the photos. Great job Nicole.

    4:32 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  20. radish

    there’s a Georgian dish called Chicken Tabaka where you fry a chicken under a brick – and it’s amazing – I should try grilling it next time I’m at my parents’ house! They’ve got the grill 🙂 The photos looks mouthwatering and now, I’m craving this chicken for breakfast!

    5:12 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  21. Alta

    Yum. I personally think rosemary and chicken were made for each other. Whenever I cook a whole chicken, I have trouble deviating from my rosemary as the star seasoning…it’s just so heavenly. I think I need to try to use this method again for preparing chicken. Tried it once ( a long time ago when I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen) and it wasn’t so great…but this looks so wonderful I should try again!

    7:21 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  22. The Blushing Hostess

    I love this dish in several iterations I have tried but now that I have two infants it is not friendly… I am back to roast chicken which i can get in the oven in a snap!

    8:50 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  23. Jason

    I’ll try to handle the picture issue a little more tactfully that Jojo up there…

    I do enjoy seeing the pictures, and I do see how the can be useful for step by step processes such as this one. However, I do have one critique. With a post this long, I think it would be a good idea to break the post up, with something like a “Click here to read the rest” type link at the bottom of the post. Its a little frustrating (that might be the wrong word) to scroll so far down on the front page to see what other recent posts you have been publishing.

    Other than that, great blog and great recipe!

    9:29 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  24. Jason

    Now that i’ve made it farther down the posts, I see you have done it with other lengthy posts that you have written. Perhaps this one was just a mistake?

    9:31 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  25. Nicole

    Jason: Thanks for your feedback! I always leave my latest post ‘uncut’ to make it easier to read and then shorten the rest to make it easier to browse quickly through my earliest posts. If it’s a super long post (like the ones I do for The BBA Challenge), I’ll usually shorten it right away.

    10:23 am  Jul 19th, 2009
  26. Valérie

    It looks delicious! I believe Alton Brown has confessed that he loves to butterfly Cornish hen and grill them in a panini press – which I guess would be a good variation for people who, like me, don’t own a decent grill. Still, I doubt I could get the chicken so nicely charred…

    12:21 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  27. Nicole

    Valerie: This method can also be used on the stove top in a cast iron pan. You can use the bricks to weigh it down or another heavy cast iron pot on top of the chicken. I’ve never tried it myself, but there are tons of recipes out there! Love the idea of the cornish game hen in a panini press, although I don’t own one myself. If I ever buy a press, I’m going to keep that in mind for sure!

    12:28 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  28. Jodi

    I CANNOT wait to try this!! We are going to do this tomorrow night! Since tonight we are having grilled veggies and steak!! Yummo and kudos Nicole! You are amazing!

    2:22 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  29. janic

    Has anyone tried the “leaping frog” method of flattening a chicken? Pushing the legs down and then cutting through the ribs along the breast to the shoulder? I leaves the breast on one side and legs below, looks like a frog – hence the name. This saves the backbone for those who like to pick at some of the meat along that area. It saw it in a recent Gourmet magazine.

    2:57 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  30. Jeff

    I love brick chicken!! Another way I love to do it is with a compound butter under the skin or the marinade poured under the skin.

    Nicely done and love your photos!!

    4:33 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  31. Bellini Valli

    Chicmn cooked under a brick is a perfect combination to showcase a moist and juicy chicken.

    4:46 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  32. sarah

    Thanks so much for the step-by-step! Very informative but beautiful as well.

    9:08 pm  Jul 19th, 2009
  33. kellypea

    Yum! I have been wanting to make one of this for soooooo long. Love the pesto with yours and wishing I had one of those mini processors. Another excuse to run down to Great News! and spend $$$, right?

    3:49 am  Jul 20th, 2009
  34. Heather

    Wow! I’m going to have to give this a try. I just joined a meat CSA and will receive two chickens a month as part of our meat share. The thought of roasting two of them in the house per month during the summer sounds awful! Butterflying & grilling might just be the perfect solution! Thank you!!!

    10:44 am  Jul 20th, 2009
  35. Mamaliga

    I always felt that there was a big difference between chopping (by hand or processor) and pounding hardy herbs like rosemary.
    It looks to me that the pounding process releases more of the oils/scent of the herb simply because it is bruised on its entire surface as opposed to being cut/chopped which only makes smaller pieces.

    I am pounding the dayligh out of all my herbs, or garlick in my stone mortar and pestle that I cannot live without.

    Pollo al Mattone is a classic – but Nicole, why gas grill?!?!?!

    gabi @ Mamaliga.

    11:12 am  Jul 20th, 2009
  36. Ruby

    Thanks Nicole, I don’t have the processor you have but have decided that we are going to try this tomorrow. Can’t wait!
    A person like me needs the photos, so I truly appreciate all of the step by step photos.
    Your wonderful at what you do! Keep it up! 🙂

    9:44 pm  Jul 20th, 2009
  37. Peter

    Excellent post!! It’s been ages since I’ve prepared chicken this way. In addition to a rosemary-garlic oil similar to yours we used to slip thin slices of lemon under the skin just before grilling to give a nice citrus hint to the chicken.

    10:26 pm  Jul 20th, 2009
  38. Amanda

    Wow this looks amazing! I have a 10 pounder here (yep, straight from the farmer they are a LOT bigger than the grocery store LOL) and need to cook it tonight. I was going to roast it but this looks really fun. I bet it would be awesome with barbecue sauce 🙂

    4:58 am  Jul 21st, 2009
  39. Amanda

    Ha! I just butterflied my bird and it doesn’t look near as nice as yours LOL

    7:11 am  Jul 21st, 2009
  40. zoe

    Wow, it came out great! I love the smoky flavor grillingl brings out.

    12:44 pm  Jul 21st, 2009
  41. RecipeGirl

    So this is the kind of stuff you’ve been up to this summer. How fun! I’ve always wanted to do this one… and beer can chicken too 🙂 Looks like it turned out wonderful!

    2:54 pm  Jul 21st, 2009
  42. cheffresco

    These look so amazing! Especially w. the rosemary

    6:51 pm  Jul 21st, 2009
  43. Robin

    I tried this last night, but we had to cook it about twice as long. I think our grill wasn’t as hot as yours. It was wonderful!

    8:34 am  Jul 25th, 2009
  44. Nicole

    Robin: Glad it turned out well! Yes, I’m sure the cooking times will vary from grill to grill and will also depend on the size of the chicken. Thanks for pointing that out!

    11:19 am  Jul 25th, 2009
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  46. Clinton Walker III

    An absolute masterpiece!! This is a good high protein low fat dish that looks very tasty.

    12:40 pm  Aug 1st, 2009
  47. Deanna

    I am catching up on your blog and I just made chicken like this last week! Minus the bricks and with this ( marinade – so I guess it wasn’t really like it at all. This is a great way to cook a whole chicken. I usually cook them in the crock pot but I will definitely be doing it this way instead – even in the dead of winter. I will be the crazy lady out grilling when its below freezing.
    Beautiful pics!

    7:22 pm  Aug 2nd, 2009
  48. Helen

    Hi Nicole- I’m an intern at Foodista, so I see a lot of food blogs on a daily basis. However, few (if any) I have come across document the process of the meal as well as you do! I am absolutely blown away by your gorgeous step-by-step photography. I love how you included the instructional video as well- you genuinely seem to want other people to cook. Love it.

    8:46 am  Aug 15th, 2009
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  52. Tanya from Online Colleges

    Cool, never knew you could make chicken like this. It looks so delicious. Can’t wait to make it.

    3:08 pm  Oct 15th, 2009
  53. nattu

    it was very useful

    5:03 am  Oct 26th, 2009
  54. Julz

    Having this tonight, used a thick garlic, parsley, olive oil, s&p marinade, which I’m also using to baste and roast my boiler onions, potatoes and baby bella side! Yum! Thanks!

    3:55 pm  Feb 21st, 2010
  55. Habanero

    My wife loves the pope’s nose and back portions, so I’ll just butterfly the bird as per the excellent video and also put the pope’s nose/spine/neck on the grill along with the rest of the bird under brick. I’m sure the entire bird will turn out lovely! Thanks for such an excellent instructional video…way better than one site I’ve visited where the buddy is cooking in his mobile home on a sterno stove and videotaping his cooking diary! Whoot! Take good care and grill on!

    4:26 pm  Mar 23rd, 2010
  56. Dan Taylor

    I’ve been wanting to try this method of cooking chicken forever and finally decided that this is the week. Does anybody have any suggestions on the best size bird to get? I’m thinking something in the 4-6 lb. range…

    1:46 pm  Jun 22nd, 2010
  57. Ruth

    Dan, I think anything 3.5 to 4.5 pounds would work well. I just found this blog today and went out and got a young chicken that weighs 3.83 pounds and it feels like it will be plenty for me and my husband with leftovers.

    The marinade alone smells SOOO good. I also think using a food processor works much better than chopping. I don’t have a mini food processor, but my full-sized one worked fine with very little hassle.

    2:55 pm  Jun 23rd, 2010
  58. Dan Taylor

    Thanks Ruth. I may have gone a little big. The one I picked up is about 4.5 pounds with giblets, etc. so it’ll probably work fine. Really looking forward to giving this a go tomorrow. I’m tackling halibut fillets for the first time tonight, chicken under a brick for the first time tomorrow. Should be fun.

    4:04 pm  Jun 23rd, 2010
  59. Cande

    I found this by accident – and it looked so awesome that I just HAD to try it. Butterflied the first time on my own – not too bad… but not necessarily as pretty as it should have been. Found out after the fact that Publix (or any other meat dept will do it for you for free!) Making it again this week! Awesome! (and the pics are great for people that have never done this before! Thank you!)

    12:57 pm  Jun 27th, 2010
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  62. Candy

    OMG, this was great! I tried it last night, worked brilliantly. Thanks! I had the chicken with these. They are probably the best I’ve ever sampled:

    2:04 am  Dec 11th, 2010
  63. Susan

    I tried it for the first time. Planned to do it on a grill but it rained and had to do it in my frypan. Put my own seasoning on it . Turned out Juicy and great tasting. Made gravy from the leftovers in the pan. The best ever. Will probably do chicken this way in the future. P.S. Like the pictures

    3:54 pm  Mar 10th, 2011
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  65. Gene

    Looks fantastic! And the skin side (to me) looks perfect. And, I love all the pictures.

    8:10 am  Jun 13th, 2011
  66. Jay Osburn

    This is by far my favorite way to cook a chicken, even if the last two didn’t look like food magazine covers. I skip the bricks, though, and use a cast iron skillet. I heat the skillet on the grill and even roast potatoes in it while it is weighing the chicken down.

    11:16 am  Jun 30th, 2011
  67. linda b

    we/re making this tomorrow. love the pictures, great asset.

    4:25 pm  Jul 3rd, 2011
  68. Sara E

    Hi! Love the recipe, love the pictures. I feel much more secure making a recipe for the first time if I can see what each step should actually look like. Here’s hoping for a delicious recipe that my family will love!

    5:43 pm  Aug 4th, 2011
  69. VJ

    Great post – appreciate the great pictures

    3:42 pm  Sep 19th, 2011
  70. Mateen

    Boom skahaalka boom boom, problem solved.

    5:39 am  Oct 2nd, 2011
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  72. Patrick W.

    Looks yummy.

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  75. Cayla

    So I finally had access to a grill to try this on and it did not turn out so good. The skin kept dripping onto the fire and flaring it up, burning the bird. We ended up having to pull the weights off and cooking it on the top rack. How do you keep this from happening?

    6:52 pm  Aug 29th, 2012
  76. Pete

    Lovely! Done this twice now, but I’m inclined to omit the marinade next time, and maybe just rub with salt for an hour or two. Nice photos, by the way.

    The word for spreading a chicken in this way is ‘spatchcock’.

    1:58 pm  May 17th, 2013
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  78. Bart

    Love this method/ Instead of brick I am using my lodge cast iron grill or Lodge fry pan, depending on how big the chicken is. It works beautifully. I have also found that Moscato wine with rosemary, garlic and salt makes a perfect marinade.

    7:42 am  Oct 10th, 2013
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