This dish combines elements of both Provencale and North African cooking, but it is as easy as hell to prepare and is just great for summer. Here the harissa and tapenade are condiments. You will need a 10 pound bag or so of oak, cherry wood or hickory charcoal, because you are making fire. You will need poultry scissors too or else a good Chinese cleaver. You will also need at least two dead chickens, plucked and you know...And you New Yorkers can find a roof top or backyard in Brooklyn to try this out, right? Because this involves burning wood. Pretend you are in Tuscany and not Staten Island. —pierino
pousin, (aka innocent baby chickens)
Several branches of fresh thyme
juice of up to 6 lemons
1 tbs coarsely ground black pepper
big zip lock bags
your favorite harissa (see recipe for Kwazy Wabbit Harissa)
Using your sturdy poultry shears, cut out the back bones of the chickens and flatten them out, pressing down on the breast bone. Pull the wings back. VERY carefully, pull skin back on each side and push in some fresh thyme---it doesn't have to go too far back.
Intricate manuever here; cut a couple of small slits in the skin close to the leg ends and slide a leg tip into each slit.
You will need at least two zip-lock bags large enough to hold the chicken. I think it’s easier if you add the lemon juice and pepper to the bags before you add the chicken. And also put in more thyme. Carefully squeeze out as much air as you can. Be aware that sharp chicken bones can puncture your bag. Seal and try to rub the marinade all around the chicken pieces. Refrigerate for 6 hours before cooking, turning the bags over several times during refrigeration. I don’t recommend marinating overnight or else the lemon flavor becomes a little too aggressive
Fire up the grill and season the chickens with coarse salt. Cook the chicken pieces over indirect heat. YOU WILL NEED A RELIABLE MEAT THERMOMETER so suck it up and buy one. What you really need is a true “instant read”; mine gives me a reading in 4 seconds (but it costs about $85), where most actually take 20 seconds or more. If you want mine, let me know and I’ll give you the hook up. But you can get by with the slower version, or you can just use the “finger poke” method. Anyway, the chicken should have an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees before you take it off the grill. Place the birds on a platter as they finish and cover with foil and allow them to rest while you do the remainder of the plating.
Spoon out table condiments: your favorite harissa, and tapenade.
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.