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I call this dish, Italian Faux-Fried Chicken and that’s because it ends up tasting like fried chicken but there’s no frying involved. It’s not baked either. You grill it outside.
The end result — with its moist, breaded, and savory crust — is reminiscent of that traditional American favorite without all of the work. This is an easy recipe that doesn’t take much more work than grilling a few hamburgers, and is probably less expensive.
The most difficult thing in this recipe is peeling the 12 cloves of garlic. However, I’ve got a trick that makes this process simple and fast. Simply place a head of garlic in a metal bowl and cap it with an other metal bowl and shake it vigorously. Remove the paper skins from the bowl and shake it again until all of the garlic is peeled. Watch the video below:
I got the basic recipe for this dish from an “Italian grill cookbook,” which was given to me several years ago. However, I tried making it that way and didn’t find the breadcrumb crust flavorful enough. So I substituted Ritz Crackers instead.
I also omitted the 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 this cookbook 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. Serve with a green vegetable or salad.
Italian Faux-Fried Chicken
You can make this in about an hour and that includes lighting a charcoal grill, which is the first thing you need to do.
- 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 bone-in thighs (you could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Sage, fresh or dried, to taste
- Step 1 Combine the garlic, 1/2 cup of oil, anchovy paste, parsley, and Ritz Crackers in a food processor and mix until smooth.
- Step 2 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 and put in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, covered.
- Step 3 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.
- Step 4 Place chicken 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.
- Step 5 Put cooked chicken on a platter and sprinkle with course Kosher salt and chopped fresh sage or dried sage. Serve with a green vegetable, salad, and/or corn on the cob.