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Pollo al mattone with peach and barley salad

Make the most of stone fruit season by tossing sweet yellow and white peaches through the barley salad accompanying this pollo al mattone.

By Jessica Brook
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
  • Print
Photo: John Paul Urizar
Meaning "chicken under a brick", pollo al mattone is said to have come from Impruneta, the little city in Florence famous for its beautiful terra cotta. In this dish, the brick begotten barbecue char seared onto chicken Marylands belies the soft, tender meat underneath. The lingering charcoal flavour from the barbecue is beautifully softened by the sweet yellow and white peaches tossed through the accompanying barley salad. Topped with olives and caperberries for a salty hit, this well-balanced dish is a sure fire crowd pleaser.


  • 6 chicken Marylands
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup firmly packed mint leaves
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 rosemary sprigs
  • 200 gm (1 cup) pearl barley
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 each yellow and white peaches cut into thin wedges
  • 60 gm Sicilian green olives, pitted and halved
  • 50 gm caperberries, half thinly sliced, half whole
  • 50 gm finely grated truffle pecorino (see note), plus extra to serve


  • 1
    Make 4 slashes crossways into skin of each chicken Maryland. Grind garlic, ½ cup mint leaves, lemon zest and 1 tsp salt flakes in a mortar and pestle until finely ground, then stir in 2 tbsp each olive oil and lemon juice, and season mixture with freshly ground pepper. Transfer half the mixture to a small bowl; set aside. Rub chicken with remaining mixture.
  • 2
    Wrap three house bricks with foil. Place on a barbecue and heat barbecue to medium (180˚C). Place chicken in groups of two, slashed-side down, cover each with 2 sprigs rosemary then with a brick, and grill until char marks appear. Turn chicken, replace rosemary and brick, and grill until cooked through (8-10 minutes).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, cook barley in lightly salted boiling water until tender with a chewy texture (25 minutes). Drain well and cool. Whisk remaining lemon juice, mustard and ¼ cup olive oil into reserved mint mixture until combined. Season to taste. Toss barley with dressing, olives, caperberries, truffle pecorino and remaining mint leaves.
  • 4
    Divide barley salad between plates and top with peach and chicken. Scatter with extra pecorino.


If Pecorino is unavailable, substitute for parmesan

  • undefined: Jessica Brook