Three Pepper Chicken comes from a recipe typed by my mother on her old manual typewriter. I came across it while cleaning out some files, finding it was like discovering buried treasure. Mom had a cooking school in Florida back in the 70’s, but I don’t think this is from her classes. Judging from the folds, my mother must have mailed it to me. We shared a love of food and cooking. I don’t remember ever making it, which makes me sad. I missed an opportunity for the memories of a shared conversation about the recipe and the evening on which it might have been served. She would have wanted to hear all about the guests and the menu.
This chicken was destined for our BBQ on a warm Friday night. It was too hot to spend time in the kitchen as we don’t have air conditioning. If your weather doesn’t cooperate, you could easily roast it in your oven. That’s how the recipe reads and my mom must have made it.
I combined her suggestion to spatchcock the chicken, cutting off the backbone and flattening it (see video), with opening up the thighs for faster cooking. You can see more about this technique in my post about 45 minute roast chicken. The chicken does look a little pornographic but it immensely speeds the cooking time and ensures that the thighs are cooked at the same time as the breast meat. This method also has the advantage of letting you rub the three pepper seasoning into the thigh meat and the entire breast. The flavor is amazing!
The three peppers are sweet paprika, black pepper, and Szechuan peppercorns. Only the additions of a little salt and olive oil are needed.
- 1 chicken
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon coarsely and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, bruised and crushed slightly (I used a mortar and pestle but you could put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Olive oil – about 1 tablespoon
- Preheat your BBQ or oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If making it in your BBQ, set it up for indirect heat (the central burners off or coals pushed to the side)
- Mix the paprika, black pepper, Szechuan peppercorns and salt in a small bowl.
- Coat the chicken, inside and out, with the spices. Drizzle with olive oil.
- If cooking in the oven:
- lightly oil a roasting pan just large enough for the chicken to lay flat, skin side up.
- Press any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
- Roast in the center of the oven for 30-45 minutes until juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of your chicken.
- If cooking on the BBQ:
- Clean and lightly grease the grill.
- Rub any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
- Place the chicken skin side up over the area of your BBQ where there are no burners or coals.
- Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn the chicken skin side down and continue to cook for 20 minutes or longer until juices run clear. Timing will depend on the size of your chicken.
- Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before carving.
The chicken had the most lovely color and flavor from the spices. She would have enjoyed hearing all about it.