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.