Cooking chicken under a brick (al mattone) creates a crispy skin and juicy meat. Removing the chicken’s backbone is called spatchcocking or butterflying, and while the technique takes a little getting used to, it’s crucial to getting the skin crispy and the meat cooked evenly.
1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (you can also use bone‐in chicken pieces)
salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
4 sprigs rosemary, cut into 2‐inch lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 foil‐wrapped bricks or rocks, or a second heavy skillet and heat‐proof weight
Place the chicken breast‐side down on the cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut on either side of the backbone. Then, flip the chicken over (breast side up) and press down on the breast bone to flatten.
1. Season the spatchcocked chicked with salt and pepper. Then, loosen the skin on the breast and thighs and slip lemon rounds and rosemary sprigs in between the skin and the meat.
2. Heat a very large heavy skillet over medium‐high heat, then add the oil and heat until very hot but not smoking. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down, and nestle remaining lemon and rosemary alongside. Place the bricks or a second weighted skillet on top of the chicken, pressing it into the pan.
3. Cook until the skin is crispy and brown, about 15‐20 minutes. Then, remove the weights and flip the chicken (no need to replace the weights). Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 15‐20 minutes more.
4. Let chicken rest 10 minutes, then carve into pieces and serve.