Edward Gorey might have appreciated the various indignities inflicted upon our poor dinner hen. Spatchcocked, submerged in brine, and placed atop burning coals, weighted down with a heavy stone. Shudder. He might also have appreciated the end product: pollo al mattone.
We started with a fine little free range bird – a fryer (around 3 lbs) rather than a larger roaster – from The Friendly Butcher.
She spent a few hours in this brine, from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home – but definitely would have benefited from a few more hours – maybe 6 or 8 in total.
Here is – should we name her? Do let’s. In deference to her roots, something Italian, by way of a backyard grill in New Jersey. Maybe… Carlotta? Okay. Carlotta it is. Carlotta Mattone.
Right. Having dried, oiled, and sprinkled the hapless hen with some paprika, we’re off to the BBQ, where we have lit a chimney full of lump hardwood coals and strewn them across one half of the grill. Having heated and lightly oiled the grill rack, we place the chicken thereupon, breast-side down and facing bravely toward – but not on – the side with the coals. And the coup de grace: a 5-lb patio stone, of roughly the same dimensions as the bird, wrapped in a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Judging by the time stamps on the photos, we grilled the bird (lid closed) for 12 minutes, rotated it 90′, waited another 12 minutes, then flipped her over for a final 10 minutes of cooking.
And here it is, having rested for 15 minutes or so (so much better warm than it is piping hot) and anointed with olive oil.