Vittorio’s Grilled Chicken, Pollo Alla Griglia di Vittorio

Vittorio's Chicken and some Sausages

Vittorio’s Chicken and some Sausages

The grilled chicken Vittorio used to prepare for the Misericordia Di Fiesole’s cookouts was invariably one of the highlights of the meal: Simple, delicately flavored, and mild enough that you won’t need to chase your drumstick with a bottle of Lambrusco.

To serve four you’ll need:

  • A chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds, 1.5-1.8 k)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (Kosher salt will work fine)
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh sage
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A 10-inch (25 cm) sprig of rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste (go easy)
  • A quarter cup of olive oil

Split the chicken up the breastbone, squash it flat, and fold the wings up behind its back.

Strip the leaves from 8 inches of the sprig of rosemary (reserve the end to serve as a brush) and mince them with the sage, salt and garlic. Once the mixture is reduced to a paste, add a little bit of ground pepper to it, stir half the oil into it, and rub it into the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for an hour or so.

In the mean time, fire up your grill (Italians prefer hardwood or charcoal, not briquettes); in terms of heat you should be able to hold your hand at rack level for 6-7 seconds when you put the bird on it. I generally start skin side up, and with the rack at least 6 inches (15 cm) above the coals — even 8 if the grill will allow it. Cook the bird, turning it often and basting it with the remaining olive oil. Should the rendered fat from under the skin flame up, lift the bird briefly out of the way to avoid char, and when the bird is close to being done lower it to about 6 inches above the coals to crisp the skin. The total cooking time will be an hour or slightly more; the chicken will be done when the meat begins to pull up along the drumsticks and the juices run clear if you insert a skewer into the hip joint.

Grilled chicken goes wonderfully with grilled sausages — use sweet Italian sausages, and prick the skins before you put them on the grill — and grilled vegetables, or other picinc foods. You can also rub spare ribs with this seasoning mix.

Kyle’s Variation:

Prepare the marinade above, adding to it 3-4 finely chopped salted capers (reduce the kosher salt slightly) and the finely chopped zest of an organically grown lemon; you should also replace half the olive oil with lemon juice. Cook as above, basting the bird with the oil, and also squeezing a little lemon juice over the skin-side each time it is facing up.

Serve your chicken with a zesty red wine, for example a Valpolicella Classico or a Bardolino, or perhaps Lambrusco if you are having a cookout. It will also be nice with a fruity, lively white wine such as Vermentino.

Yield: 4-6 servings of Vittorio’s Grilled Chicken.

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Categories: Cut Up Chickens and Other Birds

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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