If I can cook it, you can cook it And I'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

“Pollo al Mattone”– Chicken under a Brick

When I was doing some research for this post, I discovered that this method of cooking chicken is pictured in Etruscan frescoes.  Given that the Etruscan era ended roughly around 500 B.C., this is unquestionably the oldest recipe I’ve ever shared with you.  And it’s age explains why the translation of the word “mattone” is “paver” in English.   The Etruscans used a stone to weigh down the bird to both flatten it and make its skin extra crispy.  As you’ll see below, with no bricks around, I finally found a use for my free weights…

Ann Burrell was actually the inspiration for my cooking this dish. She’s also the inspiration for using the free weight.  She suggested on her show “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef”.  I find it fun to watch.  She’s quite a character.  But her take on “Pollo al Mattone” used Cornish Game hens and they’re not on the menu here.  We just find they havve too many bones and not enough meat for our taste.  Instead, I like to cook with small Kosher chickens running about 3 – 3 ½ lbs.  I think you’ll agree it makes a very nice impression on the platter.  We serve half a chicken a piece but you can easily cut the bird into quarters and serve four.  It’s really easy too.  You make two cuts on either side of the back-bone, flatten the bird, then pound it even flatter with the side of thick-bladed knife.  You then marinate the bird for 12- 24 hours in the fridge or for 2 hours at room temperature.  The latter makes it the perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon for serving that night.  I served simply cooked Haricots Verts and Anne’s recipe for Herb Roasted Potatoes. Here’s the recipe for the Chicken, and a little further down, the recipe for the roasted potatoes.

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