Last night, we grilled on the terrace for the first time this year. Not allowed by our building to use charcoal or propane, we have a small outdoor electric grill which does have its limitations (size, heat, etc.). Nevertheless, the grill is large enough to accommodate a splayed chicken held in place with a clamp grill, like the one used to grill hot dogs.
This recipe comes from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, Cooking the Roman Way. (The book is out or print, but is available in an affordable Kindle edition.) It calls for a four-pound chicken with its backbone removed and then flattened with a mallet. You can either do this at home or, if you’re like me, ask you butcher to do the dirty deed.
The result is a juicy lemony chicken, fragrant with rosemary and garlic, with crispy skin and moist meat.
Galleto alla Diavola (Adapted from Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie)
4 pound chicken, back bone removed , spread, and flattened with a mallet or rolling pin.
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
6 sprigs of rinsed and dried rosemary (remove the leaves from two and chop fine; leave the other 4 whole)
2 lemons juiced and halves flattened
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (The recipe says you can also use 2 peperoncini, Italian hot chili; but these can be rather hard to find.)
2 strips bacon
Kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper (The recipe specifies fine salt, but I chose coarse Kosher.)
1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken and place it in a baking dish large enough to accommodate it spread open.
2. In a small bowl, place the minced garlic, 2 sprigs of minced fresh rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon (or a tad more if you really like things hot) of crushed red pepper flakes, the juice of two lemons, and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Flatten the juiced lemon halves and reserve. Mix thoroughly.
3. Using a basting brush, spread this mixture on both sides (skin and meat) of the chicken.
4. Secure 1 slice of bacon with a toothpick to each inner side of the chicken. And then place two sprigs of rosemary over each slice of bacon. Top these with the flattened lemon halves. Season the chicken generously (or to taste) with Kosher salt and fresh coarsely ground black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and/or foil and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least one hour or even better over night. (I went for about 8 hours.)
5. Preheat your grill or build a medium-hot charcoal fire. (You can also do this dish in the broiler, but unless you’re good at broiling, I would not attempt it.)
6. Place the chicken in the clamp grill with the rosemary. (I removed the lemons.) Clamp it shut and place the chicken on the grill. (I started skin side down.) Cook turning frequently until cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. (Given my grill, I cooked the chicken for almost 50 minutes and turned it almost every 10 minutes.) You can tell when the chicken is done by pricking it with a fork and the juices run clear. You can also use an instant-read thermometer.
The book gives directions for cooking the chicken either under a broiler or on a grill without the clamp grill using a steel spatula. Given the frequent turning and the size of the bird, I think it’s better shelling out a few bucks for the clamp grill.
We served with fingerling potatoes roasted with garlic and herbs followed by an arugula salad.
Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc