Chicken Under a Brick

Just add a sassy marinade and…a brick. That’s right, a brick!

HUNT VALLEY, MD (June 2007) – A marinade and a brick are about to become America’s favorite new tools for summer grilling. McCormick®, the flavor expert, presents “Chicken Grilled Under A Brick.” It’s a Tuscan technique guaranteed to turn ho-hum chicken into a juicy, crisp-skinned, flavorful delight. Called pollo al mattone in Italian, the dish starts with a flattened chicken and a savory marinade. Add a foil-covered brick to hold the chicken flat to the grill while it cooks.

The result is the crispest possible exterior and a juicy, evenly cooked interior. Switch up the marinade – recipes for four delicious versions are offered here – for extra fun. Of course there’s nothing new about it, Italians have been cooking this way for centuries. Yet, for today’s busy cooks, pollo al mattone is an easy, nearly foolproof technique – and a definite conversation starter for parties.

Smaller chickens do best. Cornish game hens or “fryer” chickens less than three pounds are perfect candidates. Cut the chicken lengthwise along the breastbone and press to flatten it out. This exposes the maximum amount of the meat’s surface to the hot grill. Marinating for two hours, or even better overnight, brings luscious flavor and makes for a juicier chicken overall.

Then, fire up the grill, lay the chicken skin-side down and quickly cover it with a foil-covered brick. That’s what keeps the chicken flat so that it cooks evenly, retains all its juices and develops a beautifully bronzed, incredibly appetizing exterior. Turn once about halfway through cooking. Wait for the applause.

Summer fun is on the way with these recipes for “Chicken Grilled Under A Brick,” complete with Tuscan, Asian, Southwest and Orange-Thyme marinades.

“Chicken Grilled Under A Brick”

Step 1: Preparing the Chicken

Unwrap 2 Cornish game hens (about 1 1/2 pounds each) OR 1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds). Remove giblets from cavity; rinse and pat dry.

Place Cornish hens or chicken on cutting board breast-side-up with open cavity facing you. Using poultry shears or kitchen scissors, cut through the entire length of the breast area. Flatten Cornish hens by pressing firmly down with both hands so it resembles one large flat section. (OR ask the butcher where you shop to split and flatten the Cornish hens OR chicken for you.)

Step 2: Prepare Marinade

Mix all ingredients for selected Marinade (see next page). Place Cornish hens or chicken in large resealable plastic bag or glass baking dish. Add Marinade; turn to coat Cornish hens or chicken evenly. Seal bag or cover dish.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight for best flavor.

Marinating Tips:

  • Crushing herbs before adding to marinade will release their natural oils and increase the flavor of the marinade.
  • For maximum flavor, marinate overnight in refrigerator, turning Cornish hens or chicken occasionally in marinade.

Step 3: Prepare Bricks and Grill

One brick will be needed for each Cornish hen and two for the chicken.
If necessary, rinse bricks before using. Wrap each brick in 2 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil.

Ensure that grilling surface is clean and ready to use. If using nonstick cooking spray; apply only to a cold grilling surface.

Step 4: Grilling

Preheat grill 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low (target cooking temperature is 325°F to 350°F).

Remove Cornish hens or chicken from marinade. Place skin-side down on preheated grill.
Carefully and quickly position bricks on top of Cornish hens or chicken; close lid. Discard any remaining marinade.

Grill Cornish hens 20 to 25 minutes or chicken 40 to 50 minutes or until cooked through, turning halfway through cooking time. Remove bricks using oven mitt, turn Cornish hens or chicken and place bricks back on top to finish cooking.

Grilling Tips:

  • Metal tongs work best for turning the Cornish hens or chicken.
  • Avoid excessive charring and prevent “flare-ups” by maintaining target cooking temperature at medium to medium-low (325°F to 350°F).
  • Bricks are heavy and can be awkward when handling so use caution when handling.
  • Also, the bricks become very hot while the Cornish hens are cooking. Use heavy duty oven mitts to remove bricks when turning the Cornish hens or chicken.

CAUTION: Bricks may retain heat for up to 60 minutes after being removed from grill.

Tuscan Marinade

1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons McCormick® Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons McCormick® Rosemary Leaves, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Basil Leaves
1 teaspoon McCormick® Coarse Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in small bowl until well blended.

Asian-Style Marinade

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons McCormick® Sesame Seed
1 tablespoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon McCormick® Ground Ginger
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Crushed Red Pepper

Mix all ingredients in small bowl until well blended.

Orange-Thyme Marinade

1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons McCormick® Garlic Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Thyme Leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Coarse Ground Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients in small bowl until well blended.

Southwest Marinade

3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon McCormick® Ground Cumin
2 teaspoons McCormick® Oregano Leaves
2 teaspoons McCormick® Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Crushed Red Pepper

Mix all ingredients in small bowl until well blended.

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