From America's Test Kitchen Season 10: The Italian Grill
Anyone who has tried to grill a whole chicken knows that it’s challenging at best, and the results are often inedible. Many cuisines have developed methods to overcome the problems of chicken cooked over a fire; the Italian way is to cook the chicken under bricks. This was one method we had to try.
One attempt to grill a butterflied chicken the Italian way was enough to let us know that we needed more than just bricks to make this recipe work. We thought of brining to keep the meat moist, but it produced burned chicken when the liquid dripped into the fire. An alternate way to retain moisture in meat is salting; we rubbed the flesh under the skin with salt, mixed with garlic, pepper flakes, and herbs for Italian flavor. With a modified two-level fire in the grill, we cooked the chicken under preheated bricks on the cooler side, skin side down, to firm up the flesh and release fat and liquid where the fire wouldn’t cause flare-ups. We flipped the chicken and finished cooking it on the hot side; another flip and a few minutes without the bricks crisped up the skin. The combination of flipping and moving the chicken from the cool side to the hot side guaranteed even cooking, and the salting had kept the meat juicy. With a finishing embellishment of a quick vinaigrette, we had perfectly cooked chicken with zesty Italian flavor, and not a burnt piece in sight.
For the best flavor, use a high-quality chicken, such as Bell & Evans. Use an oven mitt or dish towel to safely grip and maneuver the hot bricks. If you’re using table salt, reduce the amount to 1½ teaspoons in step 2. You will need two standard-sized bricks for this recipe. Placing the bricks on the chicken while it cooks ensures that the skin will be evenly browned and well rendered—don’t skip this step. A cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan can be used in place of the bricks.