Rosemary Smoked Chicken Under a Brick (Chicken al Mattone)

American, Italian Tuscan

We had the extraordinary pleasure of dining with artist and cookbook author Fran Raboff and her husband Al in their hilltop home in Santa Cruz, California. We arrived one summer evening to find Al on the deck loading up the grill with an enormous pile of fresh rosemary. He laid butterflied chickens on top and compressed it all with heavy weights. The smoke of an oakey and wood-like aroma combined with the balmy ocean breezes and delicious wine are memories summoned every time we make this dish.
Prepare this dish when you need to cut back your rosemary bushes. Invite some friends over, throw a basketful of rosemary on the grill, and cook up a few chickens. If you don't have fresh rosemary, you can sprinkle a quarter cup dried over the chicken before grilling.
Warning: Cooking this dish cannot be left unattended, even for a minute. The rosemary will often catch on fire and need to be extinguished. The more rosemary you use to ensure smoke, the bigger the fire. I keep a large jug of water near the grill to douse flare-ups and suggest you do similarly. Minor flare-ups that go out quickly are good - these will produce smoke that provides an extraordinary flavor to the chicken.
1 chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
12 long sprigs of fresh rosemary (or more), plus additional for garnish
1/2 cup olive oil
1 orange or lemon (juice only)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste
special equipment: 2 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil
1 Butterfly chicken with poultry shears, splitting the bird along the backbone and press to lay flat. Place in a glass baking dish.

2 In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients, squeezing the juice from the orange or lemon into the mixture and discarding the rinds. Pour over chicken, and turn chicken to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

3 Cover rosemary sprigs with water.

4 Remove chicken from refrigerator. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill to achieve low, steady heat. Fill a jug with water and place it near grill.

5 When grill is ready, remove rosemary sprigs from water and lay side by side on grill. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess. Place chicken, skin side down, on top of rosemary, then place bricks on top, one on each half of the chicken.

6 Cook for 60 to 75 minutes (depending on the heat produced by your grill), turning once after 30 to 45 minutes. Watch this carefully, as the rosemary and the olive oil can cause it to flame up. When you turn it, brush the now-burnt rosemary sprigs aside, lay the chicken on the grill, and again place the bricks on top. Use a water jug to douse any flare-ups; careful not to throw water on the chicken itself.

7 Remove from grill and cut the chicken into serving pieces. Arrange on a platter garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs.

servings  use metric
original recipe yield: 6 Servings
Notes While you are on the grill, you might as well grill sliced zucchini, squash, or even stuffed Anaheim peppers.

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