Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Il Galletto Al Mattone

We use our grill year-round, but it gets frequent use during the hotter months. Last weekend, we grilled stuffed chiles and then chicken under a brick. This grilled chicken with an Italian name comes from Mario’s Italian Grill. In the introduction of the book, he explains that Italian grilling isn’t so different from that in the US. However, in Italy, nuance is important as there is only ever minimal interference with the primary ingredient. There are no thick sauces, and the marinades are simple. I read this a year ago and enjoyed Mario’s wit sprinkled throughout the book. In the tuna like fiorentina recipe after suggesting a cooking time for a rare tuna steak, he wrote: “If you want your tuna more cooked than that, throw the steaks directly into the trash bin and buy some cans of good tuna instead.” That made me chuckle. Last summer, I tried the clams in cartoccio and the tuna and calamari spiedini. Now, that I’ve flipped through the book again, I remember there’s a simple recipe for homemade ricotta to use in the marinated zucchini with ricotta and bottarga, and I just mentally bookmarked that. And, look at that, I haven’t cooked, or grilled, from the vegetables chapter yet. I do get distracted when I have a cookbook in front of me.

Back to this grilled chicken. It was very easy to prepare and was seasoned with only fennel pollen, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Speaking of fennel pollen, when I made the charred tuna spiedini last year, I headed off to the grocery store with every confidence that I would find some there. Two grocery stores and phone calls to two other markets later, I was not able to locate any fennel pollen in Austin and might have been somewhat frustrated by that. Eventually, I placed an order with Market Hall Foods and since then, fennel pollen has had a home in my spice rack. So, my shopping list for this dish was: chicken. The backbone was removed, and I saved it for stock, and the breastbone was cracked so the bird could be flattened. Once the herb/spice mixture was patted onto both sides of the chicken, and under the skin as is my habit, it was wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours. While prepping the grill, a brick from the backyard was wrapped in a double layer of foil. It was set on the grill to pre-heat. The chicken was removed from the refrigerator, allowed to come to room temperature, and rubbed on both sides with olive oil. It was placed on the grill, skin side down, and the hot brick was set on top of it. After 15 minutes or so, the brick was set aside so the chicken could be turned, and the brick went back on top. After another 12 minutes or so, the chicken was done.

That was the fastest and easiest method of grilling a whole chicken I’ve used. The under a brick concept is nothing new, but I’d never actually tried it. As Mario promised, it produced a cooked chicken with incredibly crisp skin and succulent, juicy meat. Fennel pollen is like ground fennel seed only more intense. It has an herby aroma, and it adds incredible flavor to meat and fish. The flavor of the fennel pollen and thyme permeated the meat, and this was one of the best tasting chickens off a grill that I can remember. It couldn’t have been simpler to prepare, and the flavors were straightforward and perfectly combined. The brick trick definitely works wonders.



33 comments:

  1. groovy technique which I would like to try, never tasted fennel pollen. how does it taste compared to fennel seeds?

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  2. easy to prepare, but surely mighty flavorful! I've never used fennel pollen...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I'll have to use your under the brick method. I love the idea. We BBQ all year long but the summer more. Great recipe.

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  4. That last picture of that chicken leg is calling to me.

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  5. fennel pollen? what are trying to do to me - of course I need to get this stuff now...the chicken looks golden to perfection!

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  6. looks delectable--in your opinion, what does the fennel pollen do for the dish?

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  7. Hmmm, think fennel fronds will do? Not even sure what fennel pollen is. The recipe sounds pretty easy though, so we'd like to give it a try.

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  8. I have fennel seeds and fennel pollen in front of me now, and I'll attempt to answer about how they compare. Fennel seed smells and tastes mildly of anise and has a somewhat cooling or tongue-numbing effect to my mind. Fennel pollen also tastes mildly of anise but is more herby and has a rounder flavor. When I sniff the container of seeds, it's earthy and fennely. Sniffing the jar of pollen, I get wow-fennel with the volume turned up and a brightness that isn't there with the seeds.

    The fennel pollen flavor really did permeate the meat. Sometimes when a rub is applied, the flavor stays on the surface, but this was different and better.

    Fennel fronds wouldn't really impart that kind of flavor while grilling. They'd be great tucked into the belly of a fish, but on chicken, they'd burn before affecting the taste much. The best substitute would be freshly toasted and ground fennel seeds.

    Hope that helps!

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  9. I've never tasted fennel pollen before. I can just imagine the taste of that chicken. Looks tender and juicy. I love the look of the skin that one of my favorite parts of the chicken. Yum!

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  10. This morning I put 2 books in front of me....hoping that I was able to find certain recipes using malt extract. 1 hour later, I had 3, then 4, 5.......the whole morning gone...I still didn't have one ideal recipe....I dare not to look up at my E-cookbooks....
    The stone......hmmm....I need a few more of them to set up my stone-oven for bread.

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  11. Fennel pollen-oh wow! I've eaten fennel fresh from the stalk(which is so much sweeter and juicier) and have also chewed on the stalks as a kid,but never tried the pollen!!
    The chicken looks GREAT!!

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  12. I am a grilling fool and This looks fantastic! I've never seen fennel pollen...that is a new one

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  13. The fennel pollen sounds like an herb I'd like to try. That chicken under brick is awesome. Mario has some great recipes. I love watching his show.

    Regarding the pepper paste I used in the bulgur balls recipe on my blog, it's red pepper paste and I buy it from Mediterranean stores. The brand is 'Mis'.

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  14. We also started the grilling season yesterday. We love grilled chicken wings and beer together. We use almost the same marinade except fennel pollen. We use dried thyme instead.I'd love to try fennel next time.

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  15. ohh mario. your recipes are always so delicious!! i just love him!

    this looks LOVELY! the color is perfect, and it sounds so delicious!

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  16. Great method for grilling the chicken! Sounds so flavorful with fennel pollen!

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  17. great idea for the chicken! I almost got killed by chicken today, but you've reconciled my feelings for it. yum!

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  18. I've heard of fennel pollen but have never been able to find any. The chicken looks wonderful - what a lovely skin!!

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  19. Never had fennel pollen.. pollen always makes me sneeze.. LOL .. I love fennel & but i am trying to imagine how the flavor is going to be. what an idea to grill with such flavors.

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  20. Your chicken photos should be on the cover of Food & Wine magazine. That is some text-book beautiful bird.

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  21. OOhhh!!! this is a great recipe! I like this one girl and she's almost a vegetarian. However, she does eat chicken so I'm gonna give this a try! and I like your grilled stuffed jalapenos too! :)

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  22. OOOH Lisa! What a lovely & delicious recipe!!
    Fabulous pictures too, my foodie friend!

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  23. Very nice grilled chicken, I have not heard of fennel pollen, learn something new. Nice pics again : )

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  24. fennel pollen, eh? that sounds interesting! your chicken is gorgeous, lisa, and those simple seasonings sound wonderful. this brick method is definitely worth noting!

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  25. Nothing better than a well-grilled and seasoned spatchcocked chicken...fennel sounds wonderful!

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  26. A properly cooked chicken really can be delicious. This looks fantastic. It kind of reminds me of when we spatchcock little games hens and cook them under a brick in the oven. yum!

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  27. sound rili good specially when its grilled.. never tried with fennel pollen.. but sure gonna try with that soon. excellent photography!!
    cheers!!

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  28. Your pictures are so eccentric! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe~~~

    "Join today and enjoy execeptional recipes.Submit your heirloom recipes for all the world to share"

    Welcome~~~
    http://foodcreate.com

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  29. /wow, that chicken looks to be out of this world. Almost like the one my hubby ordered at A16, wonder if they used the same technique

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  30. "If you want your tuna more cooked than that, throw the steaks directly into the trash"

    That, is classic. I say the same thing about an excellent cut of steak and duck. SO many people ruin these things and it is a real shame.

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  31. That's a gorgeous quarter! I'll pass on the heated-brick method to the hubs. We normally stick to the typical burger, steaks and chops on the grill but rarely chicken; I'm never confident that it will cook all the way through without waiting a long while. But your technique of removing the backbone and cracking the breastbone to flatten out the chicken is great answer to that!

    Like everyone else, I'm completely intrigued by fennel pollen!

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