Pollo al Mattone is one of my mom's favorite dishes. She used to always get it at Vivande on Fillmore Street in San Francisco usually after stopping into Fillamento, a great, great housewares store that isn't around anymore. Their bricked chickens were always flavorful and juicy with crispy-crispy skin, (just like the bird you see above!). When I saw it on the cover of the September 2009 issue of Bon Appetit (recipe on page 84), I knew I'd be making it.
You start by marinating the chicken overnight (or all afternoon like I did) then roast it the next day. The key is spatchcocking it first (removing the backbone so you can butterfly it). I did it backwards because I was on the phone while cutting up my chicken and removed the breastbone instead. One cut in and I quickly realized what I had done. Fom there, there was no going back. "Never apologize!" says Julia, right? (Note to self: no cooking while on conference call.)
Continuing on, you grill or roast the chicken in a hot oven under a foil-wrapped brick (or in my case, cast iron skillet upon chicken cooked in another cast iron skillet), flip, then continue roasting until the juices run clear.
Pollo al Mattone is easy and fun to make. The girls got a kick out of seeing the flattened chicken and it tasted, well, just amazing. I roast chickens often, at least a couple of times a month, and from now on, they'll be done al mattone. Check out the recipe in this month's Bon Appetit for more details.
Note: I'm reviewing a new camera, the Nikon Coolpix P90, and used it to take these photos.