I call this dish, Italian Fried Chicken, which is a misnomer because there is no frying involved. But the end result — with it’s moist, breaded, and savory crust — is reminiscent of that traditional American favorite.
I got the basic recipe for this dish from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill cookbook. However, I tried making it his way and didn’t find the breadcrumb crust flavorful enough. So I substituted Ritz Crackers instead. I also omitted his suggestion of drizzling the chicken with “olio piccante,” a spicy oil made with 5 jalapeno peppers and a half cup of hot red pepper flakes. I’m not sure if he wants to be Italian or Mexican?
The other thing I did was to finish off the crusty brown succulent pieces of chicken with a sprinkling of course Kosher salt and fresh dried crumbled sage.
If you’re looking for something different to cook out on the grill — an easy recipe that doesn’t take much more work than grilling a few hamburgers, and is probably less expensive — try this:
Italian Fried (not really) Chicken
- 12 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 good squirts of anchovy paste (or 2 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed, and patted dry, or 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained)
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cups of crushed Ritz Crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves)
- 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (although I used 10 bone-in, thighs with skins and the same directions worked well.)
- Combine the garlic, 1/2 cup of oil, anchovy paste, parsley, and Ritz Crackers in a food processor and mix until smooth.
- Put chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle with the Ritz Cracker mixture, turning and applying pressure to coat well.
- Arrange chicken in a single layer on a platter or cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and put in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
- Prepare grill for indirect grilling. For a charcoal grill, this means lighting the coals in a pile and when they’re ready to cook on, push all the charcoal to one half of the grill.
- Place chicken skin (or skinned) side up on the cooler part of the grill. Cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes before turning over and cooking the other side for 15 minutes.
- Put cooked chicken on a platter and sprinkle with course Kosher salt and chopped fresh sage or dried sage.
Good side dishes include grilled zucchini or asparagus or green beans and a side arugula salad.
(Photos by Mark Micheli)
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