You’ll likely spend more effort looking for the key ingredient than preparing this simple grilled chicken (see below for a substitution suggestion). The original recipe mentions Fox & Obel, a Chicago grocer that makes Whole Foods seem like Cheap Eats Galore by comparison, as the only source for Espelette peppers around here ($17.99 for 45 grams).
Fox & Obel is a last resort for me because I can drive myself into serious debt just by getting a few ounces of this and that. Groceries aren’t supposed to be a threat to my measly credit limit, but good judgment flies out the window after a few minutes of walking around that tasty-sexy food haven. I wonder what the employee discount is like.
Espelette peppers are coarsely ground dried chiles with a brick red hue. It has AOC status, so the peppers are exclusively sourced from specific French communes and follow strict production methods. It is an essential ingredient in classic Basque dishes such as Pipérade and Poulet Basquaise.
A suitable substitute is paprika with a pinch of cayenne, as suggested in Anne Willan’s The Country Cooking of France. This approximates the distinctive mix of sweetness and mild heat in Espelette peppers.
The Publican’s Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper and Oregano
makes about 2 servings
2 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon espelette pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 whole chicken or 2 cornish hens (about 3 lbs), spatchcocked
- Never spatchcocked poultry before? Here’s a helpful video of Alton Brown spatchcocking a cornish hen.
- Mix together all of the seasonings in a container big enough to contain the chicken.
- Add the spatchcocked chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate to marinade for at least one hour and up to overnight.
- If using a charcoal or gas grill: Heat charcoals on one side of the grill or light half of a gas grill. Grill the chicken skin-side down over indirect heat while covered.
If using an oven: Preheat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet in a 350ºF / 175ºC oven. Place the chicken skin-side down in the hot skillet and return to the oven.
- Grill or roast for about 30 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut into the chicken. If using a digital thermometer, the temperature in the thickest part of the thighs should reach 170ºF / 77ºC.
- Remove the chicken from the grill or oven and let rest for about five minutes before carving.
- Serve with lemon halves. Grill or roast the lemon halves for a few minutes if you feel like it.