August 1, 2015 — Italian

Grilled Brick Chicken

  • 1 hour
  • 2 PEOPLE
  • medium

‘…In the kitchen on a spatchcock chicken of course.’

'Good to see Dad has stopped cooking bricks on the BBQ and put them back where they belong...'

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What you need

2 poussin

1 or half a red chilli depending on strength and taste – sliced into thin rings

2 lemons

2 large sprigs of rosemary

Salt and pepper

500g spinach

2 cloves garlic



Two bricks

Tin foil

Ribbed grill pan


Serve with

Boiled new potatoes and green beans garnished with chives


Dad's Recipe Tales

Is there a cook’s copyright for grilling with a brick?

Apparently not. It is an ancient and traditional way of grilling: pollo al battone, as it has been known in Italy since Etruscan times. The ‘brick’ keeps the meat in contact with the grill and helps to achieve even cooking. I have grilled poussin on a grill pan in the normal manner and struggled to get an even cooking – some parts of the chicken remained disconcertingly pink. I can therefore vouch for the effectiveness of grilling with bricks. But beware! Cooking for more than two can be tricky on a home range – especially if your hob starts to teeter with precariously balanced grill pans and piles of building materials.

Although the bricks warm up slightly, I believe it’s the weight which makes the difference. No doubt cooks using old-fashioned metal irons – which are more practical for retaining heat – would say the additional heat, as well as weight, is the critical factor.

This method of grilling also highlights the benefits of simple cooking; it’s so easy to enjoy this delicious meal without the need for challenging lists of complex ingredients or time-consuming sauces… All you need is chicken and bricks!

How Dad Cooked It

Giorgio Locatelli, serves his chicken on a layer of spinach cooked with garlic – an idea I have copied here – it compliments my chicken flavoured with rosemary, lemon and chilli.

  1. Prepare the bricks. Wash and dry the bricks. Wrap them in several layers of tin foil.
  2. Prepare the chicken. Spatchcock the birds by cutting through the middle and top of the breast or crown. Push the birds down, skin-side-up, letting any parts of the back break, this will ensure that it lies very flat. Cut off the wing tips and the ‘parson’s nose’ (tail stump between the legs). Score the skin side with a sharp knife – making a cut into each part of the bird. Not too deep – just enough to allow some marinade enter the flesh. Put both prepared poussins into a bowl.
  3. Squeeze the lemon over the poussins, add the chilli and a good couple pinches of salt and grindings of pepper. Add the rosemary sprigs and massage the marinade into the birds. Leave to marinate for half an hour, turning a few times.
  4. Wash and boil the potatoes in salted water, cook the beans separately, timing each to finish cooking when the chicken is ready.
  5. Wash and cook the spinach. I find that enough water clings to the spinach after washing that it can be cooked without additional water. I also find that a large wok with a lid is an ideal pan. Put  the spinach in the pan on a high heat turning the spinach until wilted – put the lid on and cook for a minute or two. Stir to ensure even cooking then drain immediately. Use a kitchen spoon to press the spinach against the colander or strainer to help it release its water. Cool.
  6. Heat a griddle pan until it is hot. Place the poussins skin-side-up on the pan. They fit together in my standard le Creuset griddle – some ergonomic positioning will help. Place a brick onto of each and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully take off the bricks (find something safe and sturdy to put them on) and turn the poussins 90 degrees. Cook for a further five minutes. Repeat this on the skin side, then take the pan off the heat and leave to rest. Adjust timings to suit – best to test with a knife to see that juices run clear. This is one meat that needs to be cooked just right. It will be spoiled if too dry OR underdone. Trust your bricks – they will help the poussins cook evenly and thoroughly.
  7. Whilst the chicken is resting – finish the potatoes and greens adding a little olive oil and butter.
  8. Finish the spinach by frying the garlic in a little oil and butter. Then add a splash of water to soften the flavour and texture of the garlic. When the liquid has evaporated add the spinach and warm through.
  9. Spread the spinach on a serving plate and place the poussins on top.
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