The Art of the Tuscan Brick Grilled Chicken

The Classic Pollo al Mattone literally means Chicken a brick in Italian. This dish originally hails from Tuscany. and was probably cooked over the famous Tuscan grill I would imagine outside.

The photos reflect 2 chickens being cooked, however, I gave you the recipe for one because they are easier to handle, if you want to cook two simply double the recipe for the marinade and use an extra-large pan like the one in the pictures. This is somewhat of a fussy recipe but the results are oh so worth it.

Chefs notes:

The chicken is traditionally marinated overnight but if you can't do that it will still taste great.

  • If you don't have a brick, another heavy iron skillet will work or a heavy weight.

  • wrap your brick with the shiny side of the foil on the outside.

  • After cutting the backbone out of the chicken, turn it over and press to flatten.

  • Lemon zest on the chicken will help crisp the skin and give it extra flavor.

  • Let the chicken rest 5-10 minutes after taking it out of the pan.

  • Chop the rosemary right before you will use it as it will oxidize and turn black if it's exposed to air for too long.

  • My recipe for Chimichurri sauce would be fabulous on this chicken.

  • Pair a crisp chardonnay with this meal, and serve a big, green leafy salad and focaccia or roasted potatoes.

Skill Lesson:

How to Butterfly a Chicken: Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast-side down, with legs facing you.  Using kitchen shears or a serrated knife and starting at the tail, cut through on one side of the backbone, all the way up to the neck.  Repeat on the other side of the backbone.  Remove the backbone.  Flatten the chicken, pressing down hard in the center until you hear a crack.- Campbell's Kitchen

Here is a video on how to spatchcock your chicken with my favorite chef John from Food Wishes website

Ingredients used in this dish

  • Whole chicken- A chicken from the local grocery works fine, pieces can be substituted but the whole chicken is more of a showstopper!

  • Orange, lemon, and lime- all fresh and washed, stickers removed- citrus adds a bit of brightness and cuts the heaviness of the fat.

  • Fresh garlic- larger the better for the cloves because they will cook along with the chicken whole

  • Olive oil- I used EVOO however any citrus-flavored oil would be amazing!

  • White Wine- only cook with something you would drink :) Provides a finishing taste of the balance of sour and salt.

  • Fresh Rosemary- Fresh works best, the flavor and aroma is difficult to replicate. Dry Herbs de Provence could be a suitable stand-in for fresh rosemary. It gives a pronounced earthy flavor to the dish.

  • Fresh Chives- dry could be used in place of fresh chives. Chives contribute to the umami flavor of the chicken.

  • Salt and pepper- add to your taste preference.

Tools and Equipment you will need

  • Grill or oven - Used to cook the chicken in

  • 10 or 12-inch black iron skillet - Will be the pan to cook the chicken in

  • Bricks/ Heavy-duty foil- 1 or 2, the bricks will sit on top of the chicken during cooking

  • Thin metal spatula- used to coax the chicken skin from the pan when turning and cooked.

  • Measuring cups and spoons- be sure to measure to get the right combination of flavors.

  • Poultry shears or a sharp knife- to cut the backbone out of the chicken before baking.

  • Gallon Ziploc bag or large bowl- used to marinate the chicken before cooking.

  • Stemmed thermometer - Bimetallic stemmed style or digital works great as you will want to test doneness with this. All poultry is cooked to 165F but you can pull it out off the heat at 160F and the carryover heat will bring it up to 165 in a few minutes.

Make sure you get the pan screaming hot

Turn the chickens to see where you are in the cooking process as a grill is not as even as heat as an oven. You may have to turn them back over to continue cooking as I did here.