Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper

Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper

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.

recipe adapted from The Publican via Time Out Chicago
Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Prof. Kitty

The Publican’s Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper and Oregano

makes about 2 servings

Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper Basque


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

Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper Cornish



  1. Mix together all of the seasonings in a container big enough to contain the chicken.
  2. Add the spatchcocked chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate to marinade for at least one hour and up to overnight.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove the chicken from the grill or oven and let rest for about five minutes before carving.
  6. Serve with lemon halves. Grill or roast the lemon halves for a few minutes if you feel like it.

Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper Lemon

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39 Responses to “Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper”

  1. Rosa says:

    A delicious combo! I love piment d’espelette!



  2. Meeta says:

    Unfortunately I have put a stop to buying new spices and pastes as we are moving in July. But I would love to try this!

  3. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Jude! “…Fox & Obel, a Chicago grocer that makes Whole Foods seem like Cheap Eats Galore …” that is a really scary thing to say. Now, I’m trying to figure out how I can be in Chicago . . .
    The chicken sounds fab.

  4. Christina@DeglazeMe says:

    Jude, what beautifully grilled cornish hens, it came out just PERFECT! I bet the flavor is complicated and delicious — lemony, sweet, smoky… yum!

  5. Sean says:

    What beautiful grill marks on the cornish hens! I’ve never tried Espelette peppers before but if it’s on AOC status, I’m sure it adds a good kick. Yum!

  6. Maya says:

    I can just imagine the wonderful aroma and taste of this dish!

  7. chocolateshavings says:

    Espelette pepper is delicious! I have it every summer in the Pyrenees. That chicken sounds delicious!

  8. kat says:

    Sounds tasty but at that price I think I’d be using the pepper substitute.

  9. yasmeen says:

    Gorgeous Grilled chicken.Can’t wait for the grilling summer fun,its still barely in to spring here.

  10. Joelen says:

    Gorgeously done Jude! I live within walking distance from Fox & Obel and now you’ve given me a reason to make a stop there! :)

  11. Soma says:

    Looks Just perfect!

  12. lisaiscooking says:

    Looks fantastic! And, I never think to grill cornish hens, but now I will. Fox and Obel sounds like fun. I’ll have to check it out next time I visit Chicago.

  13. Caitlin says:

    Ya know, I giggle whenever someone says “spatchcock.” Does that make me juvenile? As for the peppers – wow, that sounds, umm… rather restrictive on the labeling requirements. Occasionally I wonder about employee discounts at places like TJ’s, WF, or Williams-Sonoma too…

  14. Paige says:

    If you can find aleppo or urfa pepper they’re a great substitute for pimente d’espelette than paprika/cayenne. Or even coarse ground dried anchos, with the seeds included for a little heat.

  15. Leela says:

    Ah, the grilled marks … swoon.

    I agree about Fox & Obel prices. It’s hard to resist the call of the siren, though. I know the minute I walk in, it shall be the ruin of me and my wallet. I walk in anyway.

  16. snookydoodle says:

    oh this surely looks good. I have paprika and ceyenne. that should do :) ) this will be my next dinner :)

  17. Elizabeth says:

    What a beautiful job butterflying! And those spices are perfect for amazing fowl.

  18. The Duo Dishes says:

    Never heard of that pepper, but we agree that cooking shouldn’t really break the bank. Sometimes it’s worth it though. Your grill marks are great!

  19. Dragon says:

    I adore grilled lemon. I bet it tasted great with the chicken.

  20. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this but it sounds very interesting! And that chicken, hehe it’s just a model in the making :P

  21. maris says:

    I won’t lie, everything about this recipe is intimidating me!

  22. sweetbird says:

    Is it weird that I think your hen looks like this fertility goddess statue I saw in Costa Rica?

  23. Girl Japan says:

    This looks fantastic as does all your recipes, it does sound a bit intimidating but look… ahah a model in the making… “wink”

  24. Jescel says:

    Never had this espelette pepper before..hmmnn.. and Fox and Obel sounds like a dangerous place to be in, but nevertheless, I still would like to go! :o D

  25. Carolyn Jung says:

    What timing! I just bought a little container of pimente d’esplette to make a dish that incorporates piperade. Now, I know what to use the rest of it for. Thank you!

  26. Kathy - Panini Happy says:

    Spatchcocking is such a great cooking method (and one that’s ideal for the panini press!). This spice mixture sounds excellent I definitely want to try it.

  27. Manggy says:

    Whaaaaaat. That price is inSANE! I hope you have many more uses for the remaining 2 tablespoons! ;)

  28. megan (brooklyn farmhouse) says:

    Oh my god that is lovely. Gorgeous! Another brilliant post.

  29. Peter says:

    A fabulous looking chicken…those grill marks are perfect!

  30. Tanna – I usually prefer the small neighborhood shops, but yeah, Fox and Obel is definitely a last resort.

    Caitlin – Don’t know about juvenile, but we’d be on the same wavelength or something. That could be a good or bad thing.

    Paige – Thanks for the tip! A visit at your shope is long overdue.

    Sweetbird – I know exactly what you’re talking about and I agree. Haha.

    Manggy – You can bet I’ll make the most out of it.

    Thanks everyone!

  31. Cheryl says:

    wow. how in the heck do you learn so much about unique and eclectic foods???!!! I am in awe.

  32. pixen says:

    ooooohhh ..that’s so scrumptious! They are begging me to sink my teeth in! I don’t want anything else…just those juicy, finger-licking chunks :’-(

  33. katiek @ kitchensidecar says:

    I want that pepper. I use a lot of hungarian paprika (sweet and/or spicy), but i want basque peppers!

  34. silverfox says:

    First time trying a recipe, I like to do it exact. Espelette was wonderful. Will try papkika/cayenne combo later. Game hens too fussy for me..made a 4lb chicken, and increased oven time to 45 -50 min.
    Reduced the marinade for a sauce on the side..
    I love the warmth of Basque dishes. I have a recipe for a Basque Tongue Stew, friends don’t care for tongue (wusses) so use a chuck roast cut to 2″ cubes.

  35. Basque Recipe Favorites (Updated 3-27-10) | Euskal Kazeta - Basque News says:

    [...] (1-6-10) Arroz a la Vasca, or Basque Rice, with Chicken Gizzard, Liver & Meat (2-13-10) Grilled Chicken with Espelette Pepper (3-27-10) Poulet Basquaise (3-27-10) Spicy Basque Chicken [...]

  36. silverfox says:

    tried paprika/cayenne combo…..
    not even close
    do it right … or not at all
    Viva Pimenton Espelette

  37. thomas wlyde says:

    tried paprika/cayenne combo…..
    not even close
    do it right … or not at all
    Viva Pimenton Espelette

  38. japan style says:

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

  39. kefir grains hawaii says:

    Informative and precise…

    Its difficult to find informative and accurate info but here I found…

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