Monday, May 29, 2006

Pollo Diavolo

Even before the time I was eating fish as my only animal protein I was never in love with chicken. I found the chicken I was served quite often inspid and boring unless with a very strong sauce. It wasn't the fault of the cooks, I was sure. It was just the nature of the beast. Modern, processed chicken sucked.
When I wandered back into the realm of eating chicken I wasn't impressed by the pathetic, water-infused excuse for chicken we can get around here. Then I encountered something new to me which changed my mind. Spatch-cocked whole chicken (from Shearwater not HERE), slathered in dijon mustard and olive oil and broiled. The addition of a mustard sauce for it was not so much of a tangy cover this time but an enhancement to the nice taste that, I'm sorry to say fat-phobics, the skin gave to the flesh. No dish this good should remain hidden so I offer up for you the recipe to Pollo Diavolo (Grilled Chicken with Mustard Sauce).

POLLO DIAVOLO -- An Umberto Menghi recipe

1 (2lb/1kg) frying chicken
1 clove garlic, cut in slivers
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Split chicken down the breast bone [spatch-cocking] but leave it attached by the back bone*. Flatten chicken out [the flatter the better].

Insert slivers of garlic under the chicken skin using the edge of a sharp knife. Rub the chicken with the oil and mustard [I mixed them together well before the rub]** Season with salt and pepper.

Make an incision on the inside of each thight along the bone to allow heat to penetrate chicken and for chicken to cook faster [Very wise. Do NOT skip]

Grill chicken on both sides for 10-15 minutes per side, basting chicken with oil as it cooks and adding more oil if necessary. ***

To test: pierce the inside of the thigh. If the juices run clear, chicken is done. Set chicken aside and keep warm.

Mustard Sauce:

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp chicken consomme
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Saute onion in butter in a skillet on medium heat until onion is transparent.
Add wine and chicken consomme to onion and simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Squeeze lemon juice directly into wine and chicken consomme and stir until well blended.
Add mustard to onion,wine, consomme and lemon juice. Stir until well blended and reduce by simmering on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper

Put chicken on a warm serving platter or on warm plates. Coat with sauce and serve.

* This entails removing the wishbone from the neck area if you want an easier time cutting. Not for the easily frustrated!
** For some morbid reason rubbing oil into the skin of a cold lifeless body made me think of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs when he tries to get his victim to moisturize her skin. Sometimes I'm a sick puppy ;-)
*** Don't be dumb like me and get worried that there is nothing to baste with in the first five minutes. I added a tbsp extra as suggested and proceeded to get volatile poultry spitting on the element. Terrified that the small flameballs produced by the spitting, I lowered the rack. It seemed to do the trick.

While I was cooking the sauce, I chucked some cherry tomatoes into the broiling pan with the remaining oil and juices and broiled them for about 7 minutes. Their sweetness enhanced, they made a nice counterfoil for the sharp mustard and the savoury chicken. We also had some pasta, on Bennyfrog's suggestion, and I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely it suited the chicken dish.

Ben's own picture of the beast in process. I could believe how excited he was about tasting this chicken. He started snapping pictures of everything. The only time I ever see him take pictures of things is when we are playing D&D!


Kalyn said...

This does sound fantastic. I love the combination of mustard and chicken. They seem made for each other. Can't wait to see what's in your garden soon. Hope you will share some photos.

Nerissa said...

Not a whole lot coming up yet, K, and I've been fighting with my parsley and sorrel to stop going to seed.

Melissa CookingDiva said...

You made me hungry again, I am a chicken and mustard lover :)
Have a wonderful week!

Nerissa said...

Thanks Melissa. I hope I didn't make you drool on your chef whites ;)

michelle said...

Wow - this sounds great, Nerissa! I'm similar with my chicken...I only buy the free-range, organic stuff because it just tastes better (and I never send LB to the store for chicken because he comes back with the cheapest bird he can find - it's usually not even the right color - gasp!! And again, what a cutie you are there in black and white!

Nerissa said...

I'd hate to ask what colour, Michelle!

Cute? Me? Oh garshk! *blush*