POLLO AL MATTONE
RECIPE FOR POLLO AL MATTONE WITH POTATOES
Today we will make Pollo al Mattone directly in the Fontana wood-fired oven. This is a timeless and delicious dish dating back to the ancient Etruscans, and it brings me back to great memories of my childhood. I am certain that even your family and friends will come to love this dish as one of your favorites.
Preheat the wood-fired oven with a good fire about 35 to 40 minutes before cooking the chicken.
20-25 small potatoes halfed
1/2 cup white wine
3-4 cloves garlic minced
2-3 rosemary sprigs 3 inches long chopped
3-4 sage leaves
¼ to ½ tsp. hot cayenne pepper flakes
1 Tbsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
Let's get started! With a sharp knife open the chicken as in an “open book” (“ libro aperto”), by carefully cutting along the backbone of the bird and then removing it. The backbone and the innards can be boiled and made into a good broth for later use. This procedure is not hard, but if you have a good relationship with your butcher this job can easily be done for you.
The chicken is laid open as in an "open book"
Place the opened chicken between two cutting boards, and firmly put pressure on the top board causing the bird to flatten out.
Put firm, even pressure on the chicken
In a bowl mix the coarsely chopped rosemary, sage and garlic; add red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, garlic, fresh lemon juice, and white wine.
Make sure to use fresh sage leaves and rosemary.
A mezzaluna is a perfect tool for chopping fresh herbs.
In order to peel the garlic, use a knife to gently crush the cloves causing the thin skin to come off easily.
Add salt and garlic.
Add lemon juice and white wine to the herbs.
Place the chicken into a larger capacity bowl. Pour and rub all ingredients over the bird. Allow the chicken to marinate and rest at room temperature for about one hour. If you choose to marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator, you must take it out and allow it to reach room temperature before placing it in the oven.
Before placing the chicken into the oven, it is imperative to check the internal temperature of the stone. This can easily be done with a infrared thermometer pointed directly onto the cooking stone. For this recipe the ideal temperature is between 450-500 degrees.
Marinate the chicken at room temperature for about one hour. If you choose to refrigerate and marinate the chicken overnight you must take it out and bring it back to room temperature. The bird is then ready to be placed into the oven.
Carefully remove the cast iron skillet and lid from the oven. With a brush coat the lid with olive oil to prevent the chicken from sticking.
Drizzle a small amount of oil in the bottom of the cast iron skillet.
Carefully set the chicken into the hot skillet, skin FIRST.
In order to make sure the chicken adheres to the skillet completely, place the cast iron lid on the bird.
With an oven mit carefully place the lid on the chicken.
To insure even more weight in order to best flatten the chicken, place two bricks covered in aluminum foil on top of the lid.
Finally slide the skillet into the hot oven for 25-30 minutes. For a constant and even temperature, close the front of the oven with the oven door.
Take advantage of the remaining marinate used for the chicken by placing the potatoes into a bowl thus allowing all the flavors to permeate the tubers as well.
Drizzle olive oil on the potatoes
Stir well making sure the potatoes are coated with the marinate and oil. Season with a little more salt.
After 25-30 minutes, carefully take the cast iron skillet out of the oven.
Add the potatoes and place them around the chicken.
Once again cover with the lid and weigh the chicken down with the bricks.
Slide the cast iron skillet into the oven for at least 10 minutes.
It is time to carefully flip the chicken with the help of a spatula and oven fork.
Place the skillet back into the oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and allow both potatoes and chicken to brown for an additional 15 minutes.
HISTORY of Pollo al Mattone:
It is said that this dish was "born" in Impruneta, a small town nestled in the hills of Tuscany, right outside of Florence, Italy. Impruneta, is world renown for their beautiful terra cotta pottery. In fact, this dish was traditionally prepared by using a large terra cotta plate and terra cotta lid which were previously heated up in the wood-fired oven. The chicken was then placed on one plate and covered with the other heavy lid in order to keep it flat and pressed down. It was then placed in the hot wood-fired oven. Some would argue that the origine of this dish dates back even further, and more specifically to the ancient Etruscans. One thing we know for certain, that even today Pollo al Mattone is a delicious, timeless dish enjoyed in many kitchens and restaurants. With excellent results, we have chosen to use cast iron pots and two bricks and a fabulous wood-fired oven to get the job done.
What is your favorite way to prepare chicken in the oven?