Tuscan Bread Salad (Panzanella) with Chicken Coooked Under a Brick

Here is a delicious recipe for the month of August that makes the most of those juicy, ripe tomatoes.


  • 1 whole chicken
  • olive oil for coating
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. rustic country bread (such as Levain)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 6 large red ripe tomatoes
  •  1/2 bunch fresh basil
  •  a dash of good quality balsamic vinegar
  •  4 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  •  1/2 cup or more extra-virgin olive oil



To grill the chicken, rinse it under cold running water and pat dry.  With kitchen shears, cut out the backbone and save for another purpose.  Put the chicken on a board cut side down and flatten it.  Rub the chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place skin side down on a hot fire (hardwood, charcoal, or gas) or in a hot iron skillet (with or without ridges).  Place two bricks covered in foil (or a iron weight) on top of the chicken and grill over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes.  Turn carefully and grill on the other side.  Repeat, watching carefully.  The chicken is done when it is cooked through (opaque), about 25 minutes.

To make the bread salad, cut the bread into approximately one inch pieces and let dry overnight on a counter, or in a low oven (250) for about 40 minutes.  Put the dry bread in a large bowl.  Add the onions with a sprinkling of salt.  With a serrated knife cut the tomatoes into 1 inch pieces over the bread mixture.  (This is so that the juices from the tomatoes fall into the bread.)  Sprinkle generously with salt.

Spoon over the balsamic and red wine vinegar.  Spoon over the olive oil.  Tear the basil leaves and drop on top.  With clean hands, toss the bread salad and taste.  Add vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.  Pour the juices from the pan into the bread salad and toss again.  Cut the chicken into 6 or 8 pieces.  Serve the salad on six plates with the chicken.  Serves 6.  MSR