Chicken under a Brick: Pollo al Mattone

Chicken under a Brick“Chicken under a brick” is a simple but very functional recipe that comes from Tuscany but has a southern Italian version that uses lots of lemon. The recipe is functional because half a chicken cooks unevenly on a grill because of the different thicknesses of a chicken half. The brick helps to flatten out and apply even pressure to an entire half chicken. Marinating with lemon juice, squeezing lemon juice while cooking and a final squeeze of lemon gives this dish its “Caprese” flare.

Recipe for 4.

Ingredients and equipment:

  • 2 whole Cornish game hens, small chickens or quail
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 red bricks (normal red bricks for construction)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pyrex rectangular (9×12) dish


Remove any giblets from the poultry for another use. Rinse the poultry well with cold water inside and out and pat dry with paper towel, inside and out. Using a sharp knife, split the poultry in half by cutting down the center of the breast, neck to tail, through to the back. Place the poultry in the Pyrex dish.

Drizzle a little oil olive over the chicken. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the chicken. Rough chop the leaves of rosemary and sprinkle over the chicken. Add salt and pepper. With your hand, rub all the remaining ingredients into the chicken. Cover and marinate for at least 45 minutes and up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat a grill to about 400 degrees. A higher heat will help keep the chicken from sticking to the grate. Wrap each of the two bricks in clean aluminum foil. With a paper towel or brush, apply a little olive oil to the grill grates to keep the chicken from sticking.

Flatten the chicken!!When the grill is hot, place the chicken halves skin side down on the grates. Place one foil-covered brick the over the two halves of one chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes per side (total of 20 minutes). When you flip the chicken, squeeze the juice of another lemon over the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the grill. Let the chicken sit for a couple of minutes before serving. Squeeze another half a lemon over the chicken before serving.

Serve with a wedge of lemon if you desire.

Suggested Accompaniments:

  • Sautéed green vegetables
  • Roasted potatoes

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