Chicken under a brick, or in Italian, Pollo al mattone, (pollo-chicken, mattone-brick) is a traditional northern Italian dish from Tuscany. It is simple, foolproof and amazing! This technique creates a crispy skin and juicy firm meat. It’s theatre in all it’s glory!!! Traditionally this dish is grilled, and between you and me, it should be done this way, but you could do it in your oven if you feel the need. You need weights, which is where the bricks come in. If you’re doing it in the oven, a heavy weighted skillet will do. You could also use poussins (baby chickens) for this dish.
The dish itself is easy, but you need to prepare the chicken for the cooking. For this you need to “spatchcock” your chicken. You basically remove the backbone from the bird so it can lay flat. This allows the chicken to lay flat on the grill, cook quickly and get that crisp skin without burning.
Cut from head to tail on either side of the backbone so it can be lifted out and the bird opened like a book. Press the bird down to lie flat. Then, make slits between the leg and wings with a small paring knife and tuck the drumsticks through. Now you’re ready to season your bird!
Here’s what you need:
2 whole chickens
5 cloves chopped garlic
4 T. stemmed rosemary leaves
4 T. stemmed sage leaves
4 t. pepper
1/2-1 C. coarse/Kosher salt
1 C. extra virgin olive oil
3-6 bricks wrapped in aluminum foil or metal grill presses
In a food processor combine garlic, rosemary, sage pepper and salt and processs to mix.
Remove the fat inside the body of the chickens and the giblets. Spatchcock the chickens. Generously season the birds on both sides with the herbed salt rub.
Set your grill to medium. Brush the grates with oil and arrange the birds skin side down on the hot grates. Place the bricks or grill presses on top of the birds.
Grill until the chickens are crisp and golden on the bottom, approximately 8-12 minutes for poussins or 12-20 for full-sized chickens Turn them over to finish cooking and cook until 165 degrees. Move the birds as needed to prevent flare-ups or burning on the grill.
Cut into pieces, drizzle with olive oil and serve with delicious sides. It’ soooo good!!
Beijos e Tchau!!