Success! Pollo al Mattone

I finally got around to making chicken under a brick, a dish described in one of my first posts. It was as good as I hoped it would be. I did hit some snags along the way. I used a regular Perdue fryer chicken but it happened to be larger than the average chicken. It wasn't a roaster, but larger than it should've been, taking longer to cook. I put one brick over the breast, one brick over the legs/thighs. After being in the oven about 10 minutes I removed the brick from the dark meat to give it a head start cooking, and 25 minutes later removed the brick from the breast. The key is to turn the chicken over before it starts releasing tasty pan juices which will soften the skin. I did encounter a bit of this. I roasted fennel with olive oil in the oven on high heat while I butchered the breastbones out of the chicken. While the chicken was resting before carving I put the fennel back in the oven to warm while I made buerre rouge, a French red wine pan sauce with oodles of butter.

To make buerre rouge, I softened 2 sliced shallots in the large saute pan I used to roast the chicken - allowing some chicken fat to act as a flavor amp. When soft, I added 1 cup of a red wine I wasn't fond of drinking which happened to be the most recent beaujolais nouveau. Why do I get on the bandwagon every year when this is released? I liked it once long ago when it tasted like Snapple fruit punch and buy it every year since despite it being horrid. Back to sauce making... I bring to a boil while scraping the tasty roasty bits off the bottom (called deglazing) and add a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. I dice 1/2 stick cold butter. When the wine is almost entirely reduced, I take the pan off the heat, remove herbs and swirl in the cold butter, making an emulsion. If you do this on the heat the butter will simply melt and you won't have a sauce with the mouthfeel of silk. A sprinkle of black pepper (there's a good amount of salt already in the pan from the chicken) and a minute on a low flame to heat up. Plate the chicken and drizzle sauce. The photo above is sans sauce so I could sauce and serve immediately. The poor captive husband is often left waiting and salivating while I delay dinner for poor photography to present here.

Chicken under a brick - make it this week! Some nice accompaniments could also be: sauteed brussels sprouts with walnuts, gnocchi with brown butter (forgo red wine sauce), grilled asparagus, or smashed yukon gold potatoes with goat cheese and olive oil.

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