From the Chronicle Kitchen
Stonewall Kitchen Grilling
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Tuscan-Style Chicken Under a Brick
Serves 4 to 6
The first time you try this classic Italian recipe—where a whole chicken is butterflied and then marinated and grilled with the weight of a very hot foil-covered brick pressing down on the skin—you might just think it’s the best chicken you’ve ever eaten. The skin gets crispy, the meat stays juicy and flavorful, and the overall effect is something like, “Why can’t all chicken taste like this?”
Give the chicken a few hours to marinate in the herbs and garlic and oil. The actual grilling time is less than an hour. Serve with an orzo salad; a tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad; and a crusty Italian ciabatta.
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), butterflied (see Note)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Sweet Hungarian paprika
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs
Place the butteflied chicken in a nonreactive pan or bowl and sprinkle with the oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt, zest, pepper, and a generous sprinkling of paprika. Flip the chicken over and make sure it’s coated well with the marinade on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Bring the chicken to room temperature before grilling.
Preheat the grill for high indirect heat, about 425 degrees F.
Cover 2 clean bricks with aluminum foil and place them over the heat. (If you don’t have access to bricks use a heavy, ovenproof skillet.) Let the bricks warm up for about 3 minutes, or until very hot.
Remove the chicken from the pan and let the excess oil drip off. You can also blot it dry with a paper towel on both sides. Place the chicken, spread flat and skin-side up, on the hottest part of the grill. Cook for 2 minutes. Using a spatula or tongs, gently flip the chicken over and grill skin-side down for 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken, skin-side down, to the part of the grill that has the lower heat, and place the hot bricks on top of the chicken. Cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the juices run yellow and not pink when tested with a small, sharp knife. Remove from the grill and serve with the lemon wedges and sprigs of thyme and rosemary.
Butterflying a chicken is much like butterflying a leg of lamb, where the center bone is removed creating two sides to the meat that open up and resemble a butterfly. In this case you needn to ask the butcher to remove the backbone and breastbone (or try it yourself) so the chicken can be spread out flat on the grill, ensuring even cooking.
Grilled Honey Peaches
This entire recipe takes five minutes, making it an ideal dessert for summertime and grilling season. Cut a peach in half, brush it with good honey, and grill for five minutes. Place a dollop of crème fraîche or Greek yogurt into the hot peach and you’ve got a simple summer treat.
4 ripe (but not too ripe) summer peaches, halved and pitted
About 1/3 cup good floral honey
About 1 cup crème fraîche, Greek-style yogurt, or sour cream
Preheat the grill for medium direct heat, about 350 degrees F. Place a clean grill rack or basket on the grill and let it get hot for about 3 minutes.
Bring a small pot of water to a simmer over high heat. Place the open jar of honey in the hot water and warm it until the honey becomes thin and pourable. Using a pastry brush or a grill brush, brush the skin side of the peaches with some of the honey. Place them on the hot grill, flesh-side down, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Gently flip the peaches over so the skin side is down, and spoon a generous amount of honey into the peach cavities. Cover the grill and cook for another 3 minutes. The honey should caramelize on the peaches and the peach flesh should begin to turn a golden brown. The peaches should be slightly soft but not “cooked.”
Place the peaches on a platter. Spoon a generous dollop of the crème fraîche into the cavity of each peach and drizzle the remaining honey on top.
Sprinkle with chopped toasted pistachios, pine nuts, or your favorite nut.
Decorate the plate with edible flower blossoms.
Substitute ripe summer nectarines, plums, or apricots for the peaches.
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