Neither one of us particularly likes very spicy food. The intensity of the heat can get in the way of the flavor, and we're usually more interested in flavor rather than sensation. But there are exceptions, and this Italian classis -- devilishly spicy grilled chicken -- is one: It makes our lips burn and tingle, but the heat and flavor are balanced just right. It's the kind of food we crave when the weather gets hot. We wash it down with cold rosato. Bliss. —The Canal House
4 to 6
3- to 4-pound chicken
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons
crushed red pepper flakes
fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
extra-virgin olive oil
In This Recipe
Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut out the backbone of the chicken (save it for making stock, if you like). Rinse the bird and pat it dry with paper towels. Spread the chicken out skin side up so it lays flat. Tuck the wing tips neatly behind the wings or snip them off. Season the chicken all over with the black pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt, rubbing the seasonings into the skin until it is well coated. Put the chicken skin side up in a large dish. Combine the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and pour it over the bird. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, turning it over halfway through.
Prepare a medium-hot fire to one side of a charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, fire up the "back burner" to medium-hot heat. Grill the chicken skin side down in the center of the grill until well marked and slightly charred in places, about 20 minutes. Baste the chicken often with the leftover marinade, taking care not to drip too much oil onto the coals to avoid flare-ups. Move the chicken to a cooler spot on the grill if there are flare-ups and the chicken begins to burn. Turn the chicken and grill the other side until the thigh juices run clear when pierced, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting it up and serving.