Pollo alla Diavola with ginger sauce

Barbecuing in the summer has to be one of my favorite activities. It is quick, healthy, relaxing and, most of all, the kitchen stays clean. That is wonderful.

I have been working on this recipe for Pollo alla Diavola lately, and I am finally happy with the result. So here it is:

Pollo alla Diavola translates to English to Devil Chicken. All recipes call for a rather spicy meat and, in “The Food of Italy”, a book on the history of Italian cuisine, the author mentions that Pollo alla Diavola was originally served with a ginger sauce. Those of you who read my blog regularly probably remember when I explained that, in older days, pasta all’amatriciana was spiked with ginger instead of hot peppers.

Fresh ginger is indeed a rather unusual ingredient in modern Italian cuisine, but, oh so rich and aromatic. Being an avid amateur of Asian food, I have the impression of combining the best of both worlds when I use this root in an Italian dish. And it seems like I am going back in time a little which is not unpleasant at all.

This dish is not very hot, it just has a bit of bite. Please, try it and tell me what you think!

Pollo alla Diavola

For the chicken:

One 1 kg (2.5 lbs) chicken, whole, preferably organic
5 garlic cloves
3 hot peppers (I use Serrano peppers), deseeded and chopped
the juice of one lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
salt to taste

For the ginger sauce:

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 small garlic clove, grated
the juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pinches of kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne (optional)


Preheat barbecue grill to medium.

1. Rinse the chicken under running water and pat it dry.
2. Remove the backbone: take a pair of scissors or a sharp knife, make an incision on each side of the spine and remove it. Lay the chicken flat on a cookie sheet or a roasting pan.
3. Put the garlic, hot peppers and a pinch of salt in a mortar and reduce everything to a paste. Add a bit of olive oil, just enough so that the paste is malleable, maybe one tablespoon.
4. Take the garlic and hot pepper purée and put it between the skin and the flesh of the chicken. Make sure you spread it everywhere on the breasts and on the legs. Massage it in well so it is evenly distributed.
5. Whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil and cover the chicken with this mixture. Make sure there is enough everywhere, on both sides of the meat. Let it marinate at room temperature for at least one hour, turning the meat once in a while.
6. Just before putting it on the barbecue, season the meat well with salt. Grind the pepper to a medium-fine grind and cover the meat with it.
7. Put the chicken on the grill, skin side down and put a brick on top. Close the cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, checking once in a while to make sure the skin is not burning. If it seems to want to burn, lower the heat directly under the chicken to medium-low or low, leaving the other grills (indirect grills) to medium.
8. After 20-25 minutes, turn the meat and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 F. Take the meat off the heat and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
9. While the meat is resting, whisk all the ingredients of the sauce.
10. Serve the chicken with the sauce on the side along with grilled vegetables of your choice.

Pollo alla Diavola with grilled radicchio

Categories: Mains

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