"Pollo al Mattone" (i.e. under-the-brick) is a traditional Italian cooking method: The bricks weigh down the butterflied chicken, which allows even and quick cooking and yields a crispy skin and succulent meat. If you don't have bricks, a pot with 4 litres (16 cups) of water will do the trick.
Preparation : 10 minCooking : 35 minStanding : 10 min
chicken, whole, butterflied, trimmed of excess skin and fat
ground pepper to taste [optional]
lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Before you start
Ask your butcher to split the chicken for you or do it yourself using a knife or poultry shears to cut out the backbone, then press down the breast to flatten it as much as possible.
This chicken can be cooked in a pan or using an outdoor grill.
Baste the chicken with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap the bricks in aluminum foil.
Heat a thick-bottom pan. When the pan is hot, add the chicken, breast side down. Cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil. Place the wrapped bricks on the chicken (the basic idea is to flatten the chicken by applying a fair amount of weight evenly over its surface).
Cook about 15 min, occasionally checking that the skin becomes golden coloured and adjusting the heat accordingly.
Remove the weights and foil cover, then turn the chicken using a spatula to loosen the skin from the bottom of the pan. Place the foil cover and weights back on top of the chicken then continue to cook until a thermometer inserted into the leg reaches 75°C/165°F, about 20 min (large chickens may take an additional 5 min or so). As an alternative, the chicken may be cooked using an outdoor grill. The bird must be weighted down with the bricks, and covered.
Remove the bricks and cover, then pour the lemon juice over the chicken while it is still hot. Let the chicken stand 10 min, then serve.
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