Will this ever come off the menu? "Hell no," answers chef Paul Reilly. "There are some people who have had it and have been back multiple times and won't order anything else. At this point, I think it's become a signature item."
The dish itself is traditionally from southern Italy. And the team at Coperta knew they wanted to do their own version from the very beginning. "I love wood-fired chicken. We didn't know if we would marinate it, or just do a little salt and pepper. At one point, I tried a version with breadcrumbs cooked on top of it," explains Reilly.
But eventually, they landed on a spicy oil: extra virgin olive oil, jalapeños, pepperocinis, paprika, and chili flakes. They strained everything to make the oil and were left with a little magic "sludge." They pureed everything that gave the oil it's flavor and used that as a marinade for the chicken.
They use whole birds, pasture-raised from High Plains Poultry. They break them down a little, removing the back bones, thighs, and drumsticks to make them easier to eat. And then they marinate them for at least 24 hours, sometimes 72.
Russell Fox, the grill cook at Coperta, cranks out some 60 of these a day. He seasons them and starts them on the grill, then finishes cooking them in the oven. The chicken is finished with the picante oil and topped with Calabrian chiles.