Pollo al mattone, or chicken under a brick is a popular Tuscan dish and seen on many restaurant menus. I draw inspiration here from my time cooking at Osteria Del Circo in NYC and I try to simplify it a bit.
Generally, a whole bird is cut down the middle and the backbone is removed thereby “butterflying” it and laying it flat. (Click the link for a simple video from fine cooking on how to do so.) Since my husband likes more white meat, I decided to use just the chicken breasts that have the wing bone attached. Though the whole bird makes for a more impressive presentation,using just the chicken breast with bone attached cooks faster for a weeknight meal. I would not recommend using just boneless chicken breasts, because in this case, they can dry out and the bone helps give it more flavor.
Essentially, you are preparing a flavorful marinade, and cooking it with something heavy to weigh it down which helps cook it evenly and acheive that delicious crust. You can be as complicated or as
simple as you want with your marinade, but the basics are to use a fat (like olive oil) and an acid (like lemon juice) to help make it moist. Other than that, have fun with it!
- 1 package of chicken breast with bone attached (mine had 3)
- Approx 1- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil for searing
- FOR MARINADE:
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 Tablesoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- zest of 1 or 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped fine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt ( approx )
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- FOR YOUR BRICK: Using another heavy pan (I used a heavy ceramic dish covered in foil) and 3, 28 ounce tomato cans to weigh it down.) Anything heavy can work, just cover it in foil.
- Emulsify the oil and dijon mustard, and combine the rest of the marinade ingredients in order.
- Pour over your chicken and allow to marinate in a ziploc bag for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.
- Get a saute pan hot first, for about 2 minutes, and then pour the vegetable oil in to sear it. Put the chicken breasts, skin side down and allow to sear for about 5 minutes. Cover with your “brick” and cook on a low to medium heat for another 5 – 7 minutes.
- Remove the brick and check for the color and crispiness on your skin side. If you have acheived the golden or charred look, turn over and you can continue cooking in a 350F oven , without the brick for about 10-12 minutes. Allow to rest on cutting board for about 5-8 minutes before slicing.