Charcoal-Broiled Chicken Marinated in Pepper, Oil, and Lemon
1 broiling chicken (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
3 tablespoons olive oil
This peppery chicken should be very satisfying to an outdoor appetite. It is a famous Roman specialty that has now become popular in most of Italy. The chicken is opened flat, rubbed liberally with crushed peppercorns, and marinated in oil and lemon juice. Many cooks omit the lemon juice until the chicken is cooked, but I find that it enhances the texture and fragrance of the chicken when it goes in the marinade. If you are picnicking, you can prepare the chicken at home, put it in a plastic bag, stow it in a portable refrigerator or insulated food bag, and when your charcoal fire in the wilderness is ready the chicken is ready. Don’t skimp on the pepper, or it won’t be alla diavola, “hot as the devil.” Although charcoal is the ideal fire for chicken alla diavola, it is delicious even on an indoor broiler. Preheat the broiler to its maximum setting at least 15 minutes ahead of time.
Lay the chicken on a flat surface with the breast facing down and split it open along the entire backbone. Crack the breastbone from the inside. Spread the chicken as flat as you can with your hands. Turn it over so the breast faces you. Cut the wings and legs where they join the body, but without detaching them – just enough to spread them flat. Turn the chicken over again, with the inside of the carcass facing you, and pound it as flat as possible, using a cleaver or large meat flattener. It should have something of a butterfly shape.
Put the chicken in a deep dish. Pout the lemon juice over the chicken, then add the peppercorns and the olive oil. Cover the dish and let it marinate for at least 2 hours. Uncover and baste from time to time.
When the fire is ready, sprinkle the chicken with salt and place on the grill (which should be about 5 inches above the charcoal), skin side toward the fire. Broil until the skin has turned light brown, then turn it over on the other side, basting with marinade liquid from time to time. Turn it over after about 10 minutes and cook briefly once again on each side, until the thigh is tender at the pricking of a fork. (All together is should take about 35 minutes.) If the marinating liquid should run out before the chicken is done, baste with a teaspoonful of olive oil from time to time. Season with a pinch of crushed pepper before serving.