To recommend a wine for this dish, we turned to Karen MacNeil, wine programs chair, Culinary Institute of America, and author of The Wine Bible. Here's what she had to say: "There's no quintessential wine for chicken. What counts is how the chicken is seasoned and sauced. This chicken mattone, with its tangy-sweet balsamic flavor, is a classic example. I tried this dish with a dozen varietals and top scores went to Pinot Noir. No surprise. Many Pinots have an earthy balsamic character all their own."
As an accompaniment to the chicken, serve our creamy polenta with grilled vegetables (see related recipe at right).
- 1 chicken, about 4 lb.
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, each 2 inches long
- 3⁄4 cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1⁄3 cup balsamic Italian finishing sauce
Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Lay the chicken on its back. Separate the breast into halves by cutting down the center of the breastbone (don't cut all the way through). Turn the chicken over and, using the heel of your hand, crack the backbone to flatten. Using an index finger, carefully loosen the skin on each breast half and insert a rosemary sprig. Place the chicken in a baking dish and coat with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Preheat a mattone and press over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the press and pour the remaining 1/2 cup oil into the base. Cover and heat for 2 minutes more.
Place the chicken, skin side down, in the base. Cover with the press and cook until the skin is evenly golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the chicken after 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat if the skin begins to brown too quickly. Remove the press and carefully turn the chicken over. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes more. Turn the chicken over, cover and cook until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with the tip of a knife, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board, brush with the finishing sauce and cut into serving pieces. Serves 4.