Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's Good To Be Home

The cover of September's Bon Appetit Magazine looks so good I couldn't wait to make it -- chicken dinner on a Tuesday . . . Why not? Turns out it's their simple oven ready recipe for Pollo Al Mattone. Usually cooked on a grill, this Italian style flattened chicken is weighted (traditionally with a brick -- mattone in Italian) and pressed flat for extra crispy skin and quick cooking.
From your whole chicken remove the backbone (save it for stock -- don't discard it the way the BA recipe advised) and lay it flat -- cracking the breastbone to make the bird as flat as possible (that used to be called spatchcocking) and increasing the surface area touching the hot pan. Marinate for 24 hours in lemon juice (2 TB), olive oil (2TB), chopped rosemary (1 TB) and garlic (2 cloves, minced). Our poultry CSA sends several birds at once. A recipe like this is perfect to freeze in the marinade for a future dinner that marinates while it thaws in the fridge (in that case I might thaw for 48 hours for extra flavor).
When you're ready to cook, pre-heat your oven to 400ยบ. Remove the chicken from marinade and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an iron skillet over medium high heat and lay the marinated chicken, skin side down, in the hot oil for 7 minutes to brown. The BA instructions say to wrap a brick in tin foil or maybe use a second iron skillet. I used a second skillet and cooked up a batch of roasted potatoes in it (homegrown potatoes, oregano, S&P, chile flakes, olive oil) while the chicken sizzled. However you decide to weight your bird -- after browning on the stovetop, place in the oven and (with a piece of foil in between) lay the second skillet right on top. Cook skin side down for 30 minutes, turn chicken skin side up and cook 15 minutes more for a crispy, lemony, comforting dinner.

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