To serve four you'll need:
Split the chicken up the breastbone, squash it flat, and fold the wings up behind its back.
Strip the leaves from 6 inches of the sprig of rosemary (reserve the rest to serve as a brush) and mince them with the sage, salt and garlic. Once the mixture is reduced to a paste, add a little bit of ground pepper to it, stir half the oil into it, and rub it into the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for an hour or so. In the mean time, build a hot fire in your barbecue.
Place the chicken on a rack about 6 inches above the coals and grill it, turning it often and basting it with the remaining olive oil. Don't be surprised if the grease from the bird catches fire -- merely lift it out of the way until the flames subside. The chicken will take an hour or slightly more to cook; it will be done when the meat begins to pull up along the drumsticks and the juices run clear if you insert a skewer into the hip joint.
Grilled chicken goes wonderfully with grilled sausages (use sweet Italian sausages, and prick the skins before you put them on the grill) and grilled vegetables.
This recipe is based on Pellegrino Artusi's, from The Art of Eating Well
© Kyle Phillips, 1996
Kyle Phillips's translation of Pellegrino Artusi's La Scienza in Cucina e L'Arte di Mangiar Bene, the first really successful Italian cookbook aimed at non-professionals (it came out in 1891, and the 10th edition, from 1910, is still selling briskly), has just come out from Random House. It is entitled The Art of Eating Well.