Quick Chick BBQ: Pollo al Mattone

23 Aug

In my last post, I demonstrated the technique of Spatchcock — removing the spine and flattening the bird. Spatchcocked poultry makes for reduced roasting or grilling time. With some preparation the night before, this method makes it possible to grill a whole chicken for a weeknight supper.

Pollo al Mattone is Italian for Chicken Under Bricks. This particular recipe is from Canadian Living magazine’s Let’s Barbecue!  Cookbook Special (Summer 2004). Delicious served with skewered new potatoes, steamed market green beans and fresh boiled corn on the cob. Once the chicken is flattened, it’s marinated for a minimum of four hours (or overnight). Then the chicken is cooked directly on the grill, weighed down by tinfoil-covered bricks. I love the way the skin crisps while remaining soft and the flesh is moist and juicy.

Pollo al Mattone al fresco

Pollo al Mattone al fresco

A confession, however. I don’t use the bricks to keep my spatchcocked chicken flat. I have a dandy wire BBQ box with a removable and adjustable side that’s just big enough to hold a 3 lb fryer. Keeping its long wooden handle outside the grill, I can easily flip the chicken to cook the other side. But I’ll give you the instructions for using bricks so it’s unnecessary to buy special equipment to make this dish.

Long-handled wire BBQ basket holds a flattened chicken.

Long-handled wire BBQ basket holds a flattened chicken.

Side adjusts to keep chicken flattened inside the basket.

Side adjusts to keep chicken flattened inside the basket.

The Pollo al Mattone was the centrepiece of an al fresco meal served with fresh local corn on the cob (boiled), steamed market green beans (dressed with EVOO and lemon juice) and grilled skewered new potatoes.

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Pollo al Mattone/Chicken Under Bricks                                             Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup [50 mL]                        extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4                                                  cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp [30 mL]                          finely chopped fresh oregano, approximately 2 long sprigs (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp [5 mL] each                     salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp [2 mL]                           hot pepper flakes
  • 1 – 3 lb [1.5 kg]                          whole chicken, spatchcocked

Instructions:

Place oregano leaves in a glass & use scissors to chop finely.

Place oregano leaves in a glass & use scissors to chop finely.

1.      In a small bowl, add the EVOO, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and hot pepper flakes. Whisk well and set aside.

Combine finely chopped oregano, minced garlic, salt, pepper and red chili peppers.

Combine finely chopped oregano, minced garlic, salt, pepper and red chili peppers.

Add extra virgin olive oil.

Add extra virgin olive oil.

Whisk well to combine.

Whisk well to combine.

2.     Place the flattened whole chicken in a shallow dish. I used an 8″ square glass baking pan. Brush the thick marinade all over the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 - 24 hours.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 – 24 hours.

3.     Refrigerate chicken for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

4.     Oil the grill and pre-heat your barbecue to Medium heat. [If you’re using a grill basket like mine, spray all sides well with oil to prevent the skin from sticking to its wires.]

5.     . . . or cover two bricks with aluminum foil.

Place chicken snuggly in an oil-sprayed BBQ basket . . .

Place chicken snuggly in an oil-sprayed BBQ basket . . .

. . . using adjustable side to keep chicken flat. Place skin-side down on grill.

6.     Place flattened, marinated chicken skin-side down on the grill. Place foil-wrapped bricks on top. Close the lid and barbecue for 20 minutes.

Turn chicken over after 20 minutes of grilling with lid closed.

Turn chicken over after 20 minutes of grilling with lid closed.

7.     Using protective oven mitts, remove the bricks and turn chicken over. Set bricks on top of the chicken again. Grill, lid down, about 20 minutes longer or until juices run clear from a pierced thigh. [Or until an instant-read digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180F (82C)].

Crisp, flavourful skin and juicy flesh. Tent with foil for 10 minutes.

Crisp, flavourful skin and juicy flesh. Tent with foil for 10 minutes.

8.      Remove bricks from chicken, then chicken from the grill to a cutting board. Tent with foil and allow to rest 10 minutes. Carve into 2 breast and two leg portions to serve.

Carve into 4 portions to serve.

Carve into 4 portions to serve.

Experiment by changing the herbs and seasonings in the marinade. Or try 2 – 1.5 lb (750 g) Cornish hens, spatchcocked. Grill the little hens about 30 minutes in total. Split in half to serve.

I made the mistake this time of grilling with a dirty barbecue that created lots of flare-ups. Too much fire on the poultry resulted in my first-ever dry flesh with this method. Should have probably judged the readiness of the chicken with my digital thermometer. The taste was still flavourful, but be forewarned. . . keep a close eye on the flames.

Delicious served with skewered new potatoes, steamed market green beans and fresh boiled corn on the cob.

The side dishes for this meal come together very quickly while the chicken cooks and rests.

a)    Grilled Skewered New Potatoes:

Scrub skins clean. Prick with a fork, cover with paper towel and microwave on high for 1 – 1.25 minutes per potato (these were small to medium in size). Toss with a drizzle or two of EVOO and a pinch of sea salt. Thread on to metal skewers. Place on the grill, heated to medium, while the chicken rests. Grill, covered, for 10 minutes, turning  4 times until potatoes are soft to the fork and browned on all sides.

b) Boiled local Corn on the Cob:

Husk ears. Put a large pot of water on to boil during last 10 minutes of the chicken cooking. Boil cobs, covered, over medium heat while chicken rests. Remove from water to a serving platter after the carving the chicken                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 .

c) Steamed Market Green Beans:

Clean and trim the ends off the desired quantity of green beans. Place in a steam basket and set aside. Put a pot of water on to boil during last 10 minutes of the chicken’s grilling. While chicken rests, place the steam basket full of beans over boiling water. Cover and allow to steam until beans are fork-tender (about 8 – 10 minutes). To serve, drizzle with EVOO and a couple of splashes of lemon juice.

With this timing, all elements of your meal will be ready at the same time.

Buon appetito!

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One Response to “Quick Chick BBQ: Pollo al Mattone”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Harvest Bounty Beauty: Chicken Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes | Savvy Single Suppers - September 2, 2013

    […] cherry tomatoes, just picked greens are all available at my local market. Add some leftover Pollo al Mattone (or supermarket rotisserie chicken) and linguine and you have a zippy summer […]

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