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Chicken Cooked Under Bricks

Pollo al Mattone

SERVES 4

Pollo al mattone, chicken cooked under bricks, is said to have originated in Impruneta, the town near Florence famous all over the world for its beautifully made terra cotta tiles. According to tradition, this dish was made for the feast of San Luca, the town's patron.

The method of grilling the chicken with a weight on it allows the bird to keep contact with the grill and cook evenly. At one time heavy terra cotta pots were used to weigh the chicken down. Even if you do not have a stovetop grill you can achieve the same results on a really hot outdoor grill, about 500 F.

Ingredients

Juice of 2 lemons

2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes

Grinding of coarse black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

4 pound roasting chicken, split in half

3 or four clean bricks, each wrapped in aluminum foil

Directions

Prepare the grill.

In a large shallow bowl, combine the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, pepper, and salt. Coat each side of the chicken halves with the mixture, then place them directly on the grill and position the bricks on top of each half.

Grill carefully, watching and regulating the heat as necessary to avoid flare-ups. Remove the bricks using oven mitts. Use tongs to turn the chicken once to cook on the other side. Reposition the bricks on top of the chicken. When a fork easily pierces the chicken and the juices run clear, remove the bricks, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut it into pieces. Serve hot.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.

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