Every now and then, along comes a dish that has me lingering at the table, reluctant to leave any savory goodness behind. Tonight we had a lovely chicken entrée that was one such dish.
Pollo Alla Diavola looked delicious in the cookbook (The Food of Italy: A Journey for Food Lovers), so when I was putting together the list of meals for this week, I slipped it in there, along with spaghetti con zucchini (very garlicky good) and grilled mushroom caps with arugula butter (absolute perfection).
I had absolutely no idea that I’d picked a dish that would have me saying, over and over again, “This is so good. This is so good. This is so good.”
It didn’t look like it would turn out well, actually. This was the first dish we’d be making from The Food of Italy, a new-to-us cookbook. You have the option to either grill it on the barbecue, or broil it in the oven. Since the mushroom caps had to be grilled over indirect heat, and our grill isn’t the snazziest most up-to-date grill around (it basically gets the job done, but without any interesting options), Ward decided to use the broiler instead.
One of the banes of Ward’s life is that all the rooms downstairs have a low ceiling. With low ceilings, anything he cooks that smokes a bit usually results in the fire alarm going off. And usually when he uses the broiler, things get smoky..
So tonight, the smoke alarm went on. We fanned around it, and it stopped. It went on again. And again. By the time Ward was finished cooking, we had all the windows open, the stove-top vent on and a fan blowing in an attempt to keep the smokiness away from the fire alarm.
But when things had cleared (literally!) and we sat down to dinner, such lovely smells rose to greet us!
The chicken was delicious – the best chicken I’ve ever had. Seriously. Not only was it tender, it also had a wonderful essence-of-chicken taste. You know how sometimes chicken smells better than it actually tastes? Not with this recipe. It was chicken perfection.
I’d been avoiding chicken recipes for a while because, back when I was doing the cooking, most of the recipes I chose used only white meat, and I just found the results to be too bland. Pollo Alla Diavola has me hooked on chicken again. And Ward says it wasn’t a very difficult dish at all.
The recipe in The Food of Italy tells you to butterfly the chicken. We just asked our butcher to do it for us. Much easier.
Don’t let my mediocre food photography skills put you off. The chicken was far more delicious than the picture looks.
The following recipe for Pollo Alla Diavola is adapted from The Food of Italy: A Journey for Food Lovers:
POLLO ALLA DIAVOLA (Devil’s Chicken)
2/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
4 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
one 3-4 pound chicken, butterflied
4-5 cloves of garlic
6 tbsp chopped parsley
2-1/2 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
Other equipment: One ziplock back, large enough to marinate the chicken.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, chili and chopped sage. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place the butterflied chicken into the ziplock bag, and pour the sauce over the chicken. Close the bag, and squeeze gently to distribute the sauce around the chicken. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes, then gently squeeze the marinade around the chicken again and, turning the bag over, marinate in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
- While the chicken is marinating, place shallots, garlic, parsley and butter in blender or food processor and chop until the mixture is a fine paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the broiler (or your grill).
- Remove the chicken from the ziplock bag, reserving the leftover marinade. Place the marinated chicken, skin side down, on a broiler tray (or the grill). Place the tray or grill about 6 inches below the heat and broil or grill for 15 minutes, occasionally basting the chicken with the marinade. Turn the chickens and broil or grill, basting occasionally, for 10-15 more minutes, or until the juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork or skewer.
- Spread the butter mixture over the skin of the chicken. Turn off the broiler and set oven to 300° F. Bake chicken for an additional 5 minutes, so that skin gets lightly browned. Serve hot.