Sicilian Grilled Chicken with Ammogghiu Sauce


Warm weather is here, and that means it’s grilling time.  This zesty Sicilian grilling sauce for chicken is a favorite with the garlic lovers in my family.  All Sicilian families have their own ammogghiu recipes for grilling meats (read more on ammogghiu sauces).  This recipe was handed down from my grandmother Vincenza.  It requires very little preparation.  But I must warn you – you get the best flavor by making the sauce with a mortar and pestle.  You can use a blender if you don’t have one, but you sacrifice some of the flavor.

Sicilian Grilled Chicken with Ammogghiu Sauce
(Addina Arrustutu cu Ammogghio/Pollo alla Griglia con Ammogghio)

Difficulty Rating:  Easy
Makes 4 servings.

4 to 5 pounds chicken pieces, or 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
3 cloves garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons oregano
Salt and black pepper
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce (1 cup)

1. MAKE THE SAUCE:  Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with the salt until smooth and paste-like.  Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in tomato sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.  Season with black pepper to taste.  Set aside.

If using a blender, puree the garlic, salt, tomato sauce, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth and no bits of garlic are visible.  Stir in oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

2. PREPARE THE GRILL:  Using both sides of a gas grill, preheat one side on high heat and the other side on medium-low.  If using a charcoal grill, place the majority of the coals on one side of the grill, disperse the remaining coals on the other side, creating a hotter and cooler side of the grill.

3: GRILL THE CHICKEN:  Wash chicken pieces and pat dry.  Trim off any fatty pieces and extra loose skin, which helps to minimize grease flare-ups when cooking.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  Place chicken pieces, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill.  Grill for 10 minutes, until seared.  Turn chicken pieces over and place on the cooler side of the grill.  Grill 30-35 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F, or juices run clear when the tip of a knife is inserted near the thickest part of the chicken breast or thigh.

Baste chicken pieces with sauce, turn over, cover and grill 3-5 minutes.  Baste the other side with sauce, turn over, cover and grill about 5 minutes longer.  The chicken is done when it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F.  Remove from heat and transfer to a serving plate.

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