Making Chicken with a Mattone

I bought a mattone after I read about them in Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking and so far I’ve been underwhelmed. The piece is fine but all the chickens I seem to come across seem to weigh from four to six pounds! They’re huge.


I mentioned this to Judy Witts-Francini and she told me she loves hers, especially for marinated chicken thighs. I made a marinade of olive oil, a fruity vinegar, garlic and our swoon-worthy oregano indio and the results were incredible.


After I cooked the thighs (and since they’re a dark meat, they’re pretty forgiving if you need to overcook them to time the meal) and they left some nice caramelized bits in the bottom of the mattone, so I gave them a quick rinse with some previously cooked beans and lots of their pot liquor.


What a great dish! I poured the beans and the reduced sauce over the previously cooked chicken. The mattone presses the meat, making it denser and somehow juicier while getting rid of excess moisture. I don’t understand it. The technique is a lot like chicken under a brick but the clay reflects the heat creating a superior surface to the foil wrapped on a brick, which produces steam, according to Paula.

5 Comments on Making Chicken with a Mattone

  1. that is really interesting. Thanks for blogging about it.

  2. Steve

    Try using Cornish Game Hens (small chickies w/lovely flavour). They weigh in at 1 12# average.

    S & M

  3. You can sometimes get small 2-3 pound young chickens from producers like Soul Food Farms. They’re amazing. Absolutely beautiful texture, loads of flavour, and happily pasture raised. Chickens that never see a cage!

  4. Thanks for complaints about huge chickens. I can’t understand it: even the organic producers send us too-large birds. A small frying size was always just right, when it came from my grandmothers’ chicken yards — young and tender and manageable.

    Interesting information about the mattone; fascinating how all those vessels have separate personalities, as it were.

  5. I too was influenced by Paula Wolfert and the class on clay pot cooking that she had at Rancho Gordo. I got out my bean pot from Tuscany which I have never used and have been cooking Rancho Gordo beans in it ever since–thanks for hosting her Steve!

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