Recipe for Chicken Piri Piri
My recipe for chicken piri piri recipe has been a long time in the making. It’s origins lie way back in 1994 when I spent a summer working in the Algarve. This was my introduction to frango (chicken) piri piri. After a summer of eating only piri piri and sardines, I went off both of these dishes – but time passes, you get older, nostalgic. Hungry thoughts went back to that summer and of course its food. I found a couple of piri piri recipes from famous chefs, but it just wasn’t what I remembered. I put it on the back burner for a while (not literally). For some reason, the idea that I didn’t know how to make a good piri piri marinade really annoyed me. So, this time I went for it. I booked a flight to Portugal and spent a long weekend tasting various piri piri meals! Extreme? You be the judge…… tell me if you think it was worth it….
Chicken Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour marinating time
Time To Make the Piri Piri Marinade: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 45 minutes
Rice Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Rice Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients for 4 servings
1 x good quality chicken weighing about 1.5kg/3lb 5oz.
1 x lemon, quartered for serving
The Piri Piri Marinade
3 x red chili peppers (more if you want it hotter – or less if you want it milder!
4 x large garlic cloves
2 x tsp paprika powder
2 x tsp cumin powder
I x red onion, quartered
2 x tbsp red wine vinegar
2 x tbsp honey
2 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
½ tsp salt
For the Spicy Rice
300gr / 10.5 oz. basmati rice
2 x tsp Ras El Hanout (North African spice mix)
½ tsp cumin powder
1 x tsp cardamom powder
1 x tbsp butter
A handful of flat leaved parsley chopped finely
Salt to taste
- Firstly, this chicken needs to be spatchcocked. This allows a quicker cooking time and works really well if you want to barbeque the meat.
- With the chicken’s back bone facing upwards, take a sturdy pair of poultry or game scissors and cut up each side of the back bone to remove it. Then turn the chicken over, lean on the breastbone with the heal of your hand and press hard enough to break it so that the chicken is flattened.
- Make a couple of slashes in the thickest part of each of the legs of the chicken. This will allow the piri piri marinade to penetrate the flesh and also aid even cooking. Place the chicken skin side up in your roasting tray (if you are roasting in the oven) or on a dish ready to go to the barbeque.
- Place the piri piri marinade ingredients into the food processor and blend until you get a smooth purée.
- Smear the piri piri mix evenly over the chicken and place in the fridge to marinate. Leave for a hour an hour, but longer if you can, overnight is great.
- To cook in the oven: Pre-heat to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 . Place the chicken in a roasting tray and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes. Check after 25 to see if the juices are running clear. If you want a more crispy finish, you can put the chicken under a hot grill for a few minutes.
To cook on the barbeque: Once the flames have died down on your barbeque fire, place the chicken skin side down on the centre area and cook for about 15 minutes until nice and crispy. Then flip the bird over for about another 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through. The cooking times will vary depending on your barbeque, so the best way is to check by piercing the thickest part of the bird around the area where the leg joins the body with a knife, press and if the juice that comes out runs clear then the chicken is ready. If the juices are pink or red, then you need to cook for longer.
- To make the rice, add the spices to the water you will cook the rice in and stir. Cook as normal. When ready, fork through the parsley, butter and some salt to taste.
- To serve, cut the bird with your poultry scissors into 4 pieces. Cut in half lengthways, then divide the 2 halves by cutting each one between the leg and wing. Serve with the lemon wedges and a little more fresh parsley leaves sprinkled over the top.
Tips and Variations
- There is no need to spatchcock your chicken if it is not going on the barbeque, but it is easier, as it holds the marinade better and cooks quicker.
- The marinade works well with chicken pieces too (thighs, legs, wings, breasts)
- The chicken will blacken a little on the outside, this is how it is supposed to look.
- If you don’t have time to let the meat marinade for an hour, just use whatever time you have.
- Serve with a simple green salad and some crisp, fresh Vinho Verde.
- I like to make extra marinade to keep in the fridge for the next time – it will keep easily for a good few weeks.