Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pollo al Mattone

Hello dahlinks!

Yes, it’s me. Back from the winter doldrums and lack of inspiration in the kitchen to wow you with a bit of music and food.

I know, you’re looking at this lovely foil covered brick and thinking, ho hum, cheap but effective kitchen tool.

Well, yes it is. And it’s nothing new. People have been cooking under bricks for years.

But…if you’re like me, you’ve had some success with bricks and chickens.

Maybe not together as much now that I think about it.

Chicken did not cook evenly.

You dropped said brick and chick on floor and had to renovate the kitchen.

The there is the backbone removal aka butterfly-ing said bird. It works for a chicken, sure. A turkey…not one that weighs over 18 pounds. We won‘t go into Thanksgiving 2009 again.

How’s about a Cornish Game Hen?

Hell, yes.

Bring on the little birdies.

I have mastered the removal of said backbone and can cook two, count ‘em, two game hens at the same time in the same pan under one brick and one skillet.

Pollo al Mattone for two, thank you very much.

I owe it all to Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, truly one of the funnier, more laid back and inspiring cooking shows I have seen.

Anne Burrell makes this dish look easy and when you do it, it is. And using the GH (aka Game Hen) in this dish is her idea.


If you haven’t had one in a long time, Cornish game hen is delish. It’s made for the people that love chicken thighs, and in case you haven’t noticed I am the self proclaimed Queen of the Chick Thigh.

So get out your sharp knife.
Flatten the little suckers.
Tie their little legs together.
Give them a massage in the pimenton and toasted cumin paste, let them sit and think at least a couple of hours and break out the brick.

Crank up The Commodores as you take your pans and brick out of the oven and make the quick sauce to top this perfect every time dinner.

And you dance a bit.

Because you can.

Pollo Al Mattone aka Brick House Game Hens
Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell

4 fat cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 springs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped or 1 tbsp dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 tsp smoked pimenton
1 -½ tsp toasted ground cumin
2 Cornish game hens, butterflied, backbone and wing tips removed, legs tied with kitchen string, remembering to remove it prior to picture taking
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup roasted chicken stock
1 tbsp butter

Wrap a brick in aluminum foil.

Combine garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest and lemon juice, rosemary, pimenton and cumin. Add a couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil until mixture becomes a paste. Place the game hens in large bowl, add the spice mixture to the bowl and massage the hens with the spice mixture. Let marinate for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge OR at room temperature for 2 hours.

If you do refrigerate the hens, take them out about 45 minutes ahead of time to let come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400*.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and turn heat on high. Season the game hens with salt and pepper. When the oil gets that wavy look, lay the marinated game hens in the pan skin side down. Oil the bottom of another large saute pan, lay it on top of the game hens and place the brick in the second saute pan. Cook the game hens until skin starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Put the pans (as Anne says “the whole shootin’ match) in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and remove the brick and the top pan. At this point the skin should be lovely and dark brown. Check the game hens for doneness. It should be cooked through.

Put pan over medium high heat and add the white wine. Cook over high heat until the wine has reduced by more than half. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and reduce by half. Add butter if you like. Spoon juices over the game hens and serve.

Serves 2.

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Two Years Ago on Feeding Groom