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PEPPERY GRILLED CHICKEN

Pollo al mattone o pollo alla diavolo
Tuscany
Preparation - Medium
Serves 6

This is called pollo al mattone because the bird is flattened with a brick for ease of grilling, or pollo alla diavolo (deviled chicken) because the peppery seasoning of crushed black peppercorns and crumbled dried hot red chile peppers is torrid as the dickens.
  • 3 small chickens, split in half
  • 1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T crushed black peppercorns, or to taste
  • 1 T crumbled hot red chile pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 or 4 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
MIX the oil with the black and red peppers, rosemary, sage, and salt and set aside, covered, for several hours or overnight.

PREPARE the chicken halves by cutting away and discarding excess yellow fat from the insides of the birds. Flatten them by laying each half, skin side up, on a board and pounding it smartly with the flat side of a cleaver. This should crack the breast bone so that the birds will lie flat on the grill and cook more evenly.

PUT the chicken halves on a platter or in an oven dish and cover with the peppery olive oil. Leave to marinate, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour. Or refrigerate, covered, for several hours or overnight.

WHEN ready to cook, prepare the grill, leaving plenty of time for it to heat up if you're using charcoal or wood. When the coals are hot, place the chicken halves, skin side down, on the grill and set the grill a good 8 inches from the source of the heat. Stir the lemon juice into the savory oil remaining in the platter and use this to brush over the chickens as they cook. Grill for about 45 minutes, turning often, brushing frequently with the oil and lemon juice. Test for doneness: The juices should run clear yellow when the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

SERVE immediately, piled on a platter garnished with lemon wedges.

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