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Spit-Roasted Piri-Piri Chicken

Piri-piri, which means "pepper-pepper" in Swahili, is a fiery sauce common to the Portuguese-speaking world, from Brazil to Mozambique to Portugal itself. If you live near Portuguese or Hispanic markets, you will probably find vinegar-based piri-piri sauce on the shelves, but you may also substitute Tabasco or any other favorite hot-pepper sauce. In the absence of a rotisserie, this chicken can be cooked on the grill rack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 roasting chicken, about 4 lb., neck and giblets removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. piri-piri sauce or other hot-pepper sauce
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 handfuls mesquite wood chips, soaked if using charcoal (optional)

Directions:

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large, deep, nonreactive bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar, piri-piri sauce, paprika, cumin, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Stir in the parsley, ginger, thyme and garlic. Spoon out and reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for basting.

Place the chicken in the bowl and turn the chicken to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate the chicken and reserved sauce, turning the chicken occasionally, for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for rotisserie roasting, or for indirect grilling over medium heat. If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan half full of water on the center of the fire bed.

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Truss the chicken.

For a charcoal grill: If using the wood chips, sprinkle about one-third of them on the coals. Secure the chicken onto the spit according to the manufacturer's instructions. Or place the chicken, breast side up, on the rack over the drip pan. Cover the grill and cook, basting the chicken occasionally with the reserved marinade, until the juices run clear when the thigh joint is pierced with a knife tip, about 1 1/2 hours. Add more coals as needed and the remaining wood chips, in 2 batches.

For a gas grill: If using the wood chips, add them to the grill in a smoker box or perforated foil packet. Secure the chicken on the spit according to the manufacturer's instructions. Or place the chicken, breast side up, on the grill rack away from the heat elements. Cover the grill and cook, basting the chicken occasionally with the reserved marinade, until the juices run clear when the thigh joint is pierced with a knife tip, about 1 1/2 hours.

To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone; it should register 170°F.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Grilling, by Denis Kelly, Melanie Barnard, Barbara Grunes & Michael McLaughlin (Oxmoor House, 2003).