Pollo al Mattone (Chicken Under A Brick) Recipe and Wine Pairing

Grilling a whole bird with something really heavy (like a brick) on top is a way to get grilled chicken with the crispiest skin you’ve ever seen. All you need for this Pollo al Mattone is the best quality poultry and a simple herb-garlic marinade. Pair it with a medium-bodied Pinot Noir.

“Al Mattone”: A Technique with Ancient Origins

The technique of cooking something with a heavy weight placed on top dates back a long, long time. Some say to ancient Roman times when soldiers lugged heavy clay pots with them to cook their meals. Similar cooking pots with a heavy lid are still for sale around Lucca, Tuscany, today! Using a brick wrapped in aluminum foil works just as well, though. The technique allows the bird to be in close contact with the grill and cook evenly. It speeds up cooking, helps retain moisture, and creates the crispiest skin you’ve ever had. Drooling yet? Get cooking, then!

How Do I Prep the Chicken?

This recipe calls for a whole, spatchcocked chicken. This technique entails butterflying the bird open to make it flat and even. It isn’t hard to do, but you have to know what you’re doing. We’ll let Chef John show it:

After spatchcocking the chicken, make a simple marinade with some lemon and fresh herbs. Marinate for a couple of hours for the tastiest result.

Wine Pairing For Pollo Al Mattone

For grilled chicken with a bit of char and smoke, we recommend a Pinot Noir that is lightly oaked but not too high in tannins. The chicken is prepared simply, and a heavier red wine could overpower these flavours. The Paddy Borthwick Pinot Noir is fruit-forward with a touch of herbs, from the heart of Wairarapa on New Zealand’s North Island. 

Pollo al Mattone (Chicken Under A Brick) Recipe and Wine Pairing

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Recipe by WineCollective Course: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Moderate
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  • 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (see the video above for the technique)

  • 4 tbsp lemon juice

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp fresh mixed herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 lemon, in wedges

  • Extra needed
  • 2-4 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil


  • Make a marinade with lemon juice, olive oil, mixed herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Rub the chicken with it on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  • Preheat your grill to 400°F (200 ºC).
  • Place the chicken on the grill, keeping it squashed with the aluminum-wrapped bricks on top.
  • After about 20 minutes, turn the chicken over and put the weight back on, continuing to cook for 15-20 minutes. Check if the chicken is fully cooked in the centre.
  • Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon.

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Ma che buono! (So good!!) And we’re not done yet! The next recipe in our series is for Baby Back Ribs in Smoky BBQ Sauce – a dish that is impossible to resist!

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