This easy grilled chicken with a citrus-spiked jarred harissa sauce is a summer chicken dinner winner. Butterflying your chicken makes it cook faster and crisps perfectly the skin, and cooking it under the weight of a brick yields a perfectly crisp exterior and wonderfully juicy, tender interior. No brine or marinade needed!
Did someone cast a spell on Foodie ala Crush and POOF! turn it into a remodeling blog? No, they didn’t? Then what’s up with this talk of mixing chicken with bricks and what in the heck are we building here? This week we’re finishing up July’s Grilling Month of recipes by constructing a dish that could very well become your new absolute favorite, go-to, weeknight dinner meal. Dinner under a brick? And excuse me, did I hear easy? Don’t be a doubter, it’s simply that good and yes, that easy. And a lot easier to say than Spatchcocked grilled chicken, which is essentially the same thing.
My man and I have grilled chicken under bricks before, but never with this amount of flavor. Because of the commanding flavors of harissa, this chicken doesn’t require a salty brine, a long soak in a tricky marinade or any other enhancements to create one of the best chicken recipes we’ve made in a long, long time. In fact all the flavor is in the quick harissa swipe and grilled flavor.
So, what is this wonder flavoring?
Harissa is a spicy chili condiment of roasted red peppers, serrano peppers, garlic and spices. I mostly hear of it hailing from North Africa and the brand I found at my local Mediterranean market is from Morocco and is called Mehdia Harissa. I’d love to share a link, but I had a hard time finding it online. Harissa comes in jars, cans and tubes but I prefer the glass jars so it doesn’t adopt any of that bad aluminum taste.
I’m deeming harissa the new Sriracha. My husband is deeming it his new favorite topping for his morning scrambled eggs. And I’m betting you’ll be seeing a lot more uses of it on the blog soon.
One of the best features of our new Saber Grill is it’s three individually controlled cooking regions on the grill. But what does that mean in the foodie scheme of things and why would you need three cooking areas? Because indirect heating is the grill master’s friend. Turn one side to high, one side to low and the grill becomes a stainless steel baking vessel.
Because our Saber grill heats up to over 700 degrees, the cooking time for your grilling adventures may vary from mine. Unless you get yourself one of these bomb diggity grills. Then we’ll be on exactly the same page. Virtual grilling partners in foodie crime.
About the recipe:
Flattening the chicken by butterflying it—a.k.a. removing the backbone—makes the chicken cook faster and crisps the skin when cooked on the grill as a whole. If you’re not sure how to butterfly a chicken, here’s a super quick and easy how-to video.
Grilling the chicken on low heat may seem counterintuitive to getting a crisp skin. Hotter should mean crisper, right? But I learned by reading this post that starting on a lower temperature heats renders the fat and moisture slowly from the bird’s skin so it will crisp up better on the outside, while keeping the meat inside tender and juicy.
I added some citrus to the jarred harissa and it added a nice addition to the peppered heat. A squeeze of the grilled citrus as a finishing touch is always one of my favorite secrets to just about everything on the grill.
I chose a jarred harissa, but if you want to make this recipe from scratch, try this recipe.
For more of July’s Grilling Month recipes, check out my Grilled Pork Chops with Spicy Balsamic Grilled Peaches, Grilled Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Herbed Fruit Salsa and Grilled Vegetables Sandwich with Herbed Ricotta.
Chicken Grilled Under a Brick with Harissa Marinade
- 1 3-½ to 4 pound whole chicken
- ½ cup harissa
- 1 lemon , halved
- 1 orange , halved
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Oil the grill grates of your grill with paper towels lightly coated with grapeseed or canola oil. Preheat one side of the grill on high and one side on low for 10-15 minutes.
- Rinse the whole chicken and pat it dry with paper towels, then place the chicken on a cutting board. Using a pair of kitchen shears, butterfly the chicken by cutting out the backbone of the chicken. Press down on the chicken to flatten it.
- Transfer the chicken to a baking dish.
- Mix the harissa with juice from ½ of the lemon, ½ of the orange and the olive oil in a small bowl. Slather the harissa mixture on the front and back of the chicken.
- Cover 2 bricks or pavers with aluminum foil, with the dull side on the outside.
- Tuck wings under the breast. Place the chicken, breast side down, over indirect heat (the side of grill set to low). Set the bricks on top of the chicken. Close the grill cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. Carefully remove the bricks and flip chicken. Top the chicken again with the bricks and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh reads 155°, anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on your grill's maximum temperatures. Move the chicken to the hotter part of the grill and replace the bricks. Cook for 5-10 more minutes to crisp up the chicken skin.
- Grill the remaining halves of the orange and lemon.
- Serve chicken with a squeeze of the orange and lemon and more harissa if desired.
This post is in partnership with Saber Grills. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.
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I normally just put it on veggies, however now I’m pumped to attempt it on some barbecued chicken! A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing,
I’ve been wanting to try grilling a whole chicken under bricks – thanks for this great recipe! I’ve PINNED already!!
This chicken is very close to Georgian Tobacco (Tabaka in Russian) Chicken that is very popular in Russia and we even had a special frying pens with a lid, connected to a bottom with a screw so when you put a chicken in you just screw top to bottom very tight. Spices are different (I love Georgian spices but cannot find those in US). There is one difference – we put a chicken flat on a board and beat it pretty hard with a kitchen hammer really crushing all bones and making it very flat. Then put spices on. In this case bricks will be very heavy and all juice will go out so when I grill this tasty Tobacco Chicken I simply press it when put on a grill, close the lid, cook, turn it over and press to the grill… It is flat already and will be grilled perfectly with some juice inside… Thank you for sharing I had no idea about bricks – will try.
Nora – I’d love to try your idea sometime – thanks for sharing !!
OMG! My mouth is watering!
Liz @ FloatingKitchen
Love love love harissa. I usually only put it on veggies, but now I’m pumped to try it on some grilled chicken! Thanks for sharing, Heidi!
Crystal | Apples & Sparkle
I love harissa, and this chicken looks so great!
Christine at Cook the Story
Harissa, for the win!
Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
You had me at lemons, halved.
Kathy @ Olives & Garlic
One of favorite ways to have grilled chicken.
Bri | Bites of Bri
I love harissa and even though I’ve heard of chicken under a brick, I’ve never made it! This is enough to get me going though. Thanks, Heidi.
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nice and mouth watering griiled chicken recipe…