Low carb barbequed chicken with peperonata and avocado salsa will leave you a pleasant memory of summer as it draws to an end.
Who doesn’t like a barbeque? There is something truly summer-y and holiday-y about lighting up the fuel and cooking some meat and vegetables outside in the sunshine.
From the smoke filled air, to that smell of cooking meat, you cannot help but salivate as your senses prepare for a feast. I’m not a huge meat lover, but even I get excited about the irresistible aroma of a barbeque.
So why not enjoy my last barbeque before I pack up and head back to the UK for winter hibernation? Here in Veneto, November has been veeeeery kind, by gifting us around 21°C, a beautiful blue sky and lovely warm sunshine, every-single-day so far. Yes temperatures have been diving at dusk, but during the day you’d never think there are less than 2 months till Christmas!
Good meat doesn’t need anything added to it
My husband is obsessed with marinating every single bit of meat before putting it on the grill, but I rather enjoy tasting meat when I eat meat, rather than spices and added flavours. Perhaps it’s because I was taught by Italians that when you barbecue good meat you only have to add coarse salt, and if you have to make it tasty by adding flavourings and spices, it is bad meat.
True to those words, all Italians I have ever met literally unwrap their pork, chicken, beef or whatever they got from the butcher’s, and throw it on their barbeque, Bear Grylls style! And every Italian barbeque feast I have been to has been amazing.
At the butcher’s, lots of lovely poultry was on offer. All organic, grass-fed, GMO-free, local and fresh. Hens, capons, chickens, guineafowls, turkeys. They all looked amazing, and the turkey in particular was beckoning me. But no. Turkey is waaaay too low in fat for my keto lifestyle.
In the end, I opted for a chicken that was plump and inviting. I told the polite young chap behind the counter that I only wanted the thighs and drumsticks and that they were for a barbecue. No problemo! He offered to ‘open’ them up for me and I said yes, since it sounded odd. He then proceeded to expertly make cuts along the bones so as to spread out the meat, achieving a flattened result. This was going to make the chicken easier and quicker to barbeque and to ensure even cooking – he explained.
I literally unwrapped the chicken quarters, sprinkled coarse Himalayan pink salt on both sides and under the skin and I was ready to roll! Why coarse salt? Because coarse salt adds flavour to the meat whilst cooking and doesn’t get absorbed by the meat fibres. Fine salt, on the other hand, will get absorbed and make the meat tough and dry. NEVER use fine salt on meat before or during cooking. You can of course add it just before serving.
Real wood: the most natural way to barbecue
In Italy we have a brick-built Turkish-style barbecue (my husband’s idea), but we hardly ever cook skewered meat chunks, as more often than not we choose larger cuts of meat that require a grill. So I placed my chicken onto the grill, locked it in and rested it on the side while I fired up the wood.
Whilst waiting for the logs to burn I started making my peperonata, which is a traditional Italian side dish of sweet peppers cooked in garlic, onion and tomato sauce. A great accompaniment for chicken.
With the peperonata simmering away, my wood logs had turned to incandescent ash and I positioned my chicken above it. Sadly, as you can see from the photo below, I forgot to ‘heat test’ and put the chicken on too soon, charring it on one side. Oh well. I never claimed to be a grill master. I just didn’t eat the blackened bits.
And I can tell you my last barbeque of 2015 was truly a success. Apart from those few burned bits of skin, which I discarded, it was moist, the flavour was amazing and I savoured every morsel. No need for spices. No need for marinades. Just chicken. Simplicity at its best.
And the sweetness of the peperonata was a perfect contrast for the smoky chicken. My peperonata uses quite a bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of my favourite spices: it adds depth of flavour to both favourite and sweet dishes and it’s health benefits are astounding.
I also served my avocado salsa on the side, in case the chicken was too dry…. I needn’t have bothered!
- Yield: 2
- Serving size: 1
- Calories: 1053
- Fat: 77g
- Net Carbs: 13g
- Protein: 67g
- 2 chicken 'quarters' (leg and thigh)
- coarse Himalayan pink salt (U.S. option HERE)
- 3 small peppers
- 200g chopped or sieved tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- a sprinkle of organic broth granules
- fine Himalayan pink salt (U.S. option HERE)
- a sprinkle of black pepper
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp paprika
- 30g extra virgin olive oil (U.S. option HERE)
- 1 ripe avocado
- juice of 1 lemon
- black pepper
- 1 TBSP + 1 tsp coconut oil (U.S. option HERE)
- sprinkle coarse salt all over and under chicken skin.
- barbeque until cooked.
- place extra virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan.
- add all ingredients and cook on low heat until very soft, then add a tablespoon of coconut oil and stir.
- mash up the avocado, then blitz it in a blender, together with coconut oil, salt, black pepper and paprika, until creamy and smooth; taste test and adjust seasoning if required.
Metric kitchen scales are an inexpensive yet invaluable gadget to ensure accurate measurement of ingredients. Store them upright in a cupboard or over your worktop and they'll only take up a tiny bit of space. Click HERE for the ones I use. For U.S. option click HERE.