Sunday, 16 August 2009

Piri Piri Chicken - How HOT do you like it?

I was very excited. So excited that I could bite myself. Why? Well let me tell you. Before I started BTTCB, I spent a lot of time looking at and reading many food blogs. What kept jumping out at me was the various different food blogging events that go on. But there was one that really, really make me want to get involved with one. That was 'In the Bag' hosted by Julia over at A Slice of Cherry Pie. Which is fantastic, as it is all about using seasonal food - something I am trying to do more and more. For the month of August the ingredients that you had to use were Chilli, Garlic and Chicken. So this is it, my first entry and attempt at In the Bag........ Piri Piri Chicken.

The name Piri-Piri comes from the chilli that is used, which is more commonly known as the African Birds-Eye Chilli. Although Piri-Piri is Portuguese, it actually first came from Africa. It originates from Angola and Mozambique - which were colonies of Portugal. It is a hot sauce made from dried and soaked piri-piri chillies. I have memories of the first time I had Piri-Piri Chicken. It was in Portugal when I had just turned 18, off the beaten track in a tiny little village, in a little restaurant over-looking the hills. It was a beautiful setting. When I was making this I wanted to recreate that hot, but fragrant taste that I can remember.

Doing some research on Piri-Piri Sauce, I was amazed at the sheer number of variations and recipes. The most basic, which was probably the original, was just oil, minced piri-piri chillies and salt. But I wanted to have a bit more flavour to mine, to remind me of when I was back in Portugal. So I set about creating my version of Piri-Piri Chicken. Let me just interrupt at this point and say pop yourselves a few beers in the fridge to drink while eating this. You'll love the reason why. In chillies there is a substance called Capsaicin. This is the substance in a chilli that creates the burning sensation. When people eat something that is too hot, many people turn to water to try and cool their mouth down. It's not worth it. It's ineffective. You see Capsaicin is not water-soluble, so it doesn't do anything. The good news is, it's alcohol-soluble. That's why a cold beer goes well with a curry.

You can make this as hot or as mild as you like, it's down to you how much heat you can handle. Personally I like hot food, and when I made this I used 6 birds eye chillies. When I make this again, I will increase this to 8 or 9 as for me it could be hotter. But I will say with 6 chillies you still get a good kick and a wonderful flavour. You can also use prawns instead of chicken, use the sauce brushed onto corn on the cob, or toss potato wedges in the marinade before cooking.

Piri-Piri Chicken

Serves 2

6 - 12 red Birds Eye Chillies (depending on taste)
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Malden Sea Salt
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 tsp ground Cumin
100ml Olive Oil
50 ml Red Wine Vinegar
Juice of 1 Lime
4 free range chicken pieces (drumsticks/thighs - skin on)

1. Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4/180C. Place your chillies in the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and chop.
2. Place the chilli in a saucepan with the garlic, salt, oregano, thyme, cumin, olive oil, vinegar and lime. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes and then leave to cool. Place in a jam jar and keep at room temperature.
3. Make several slashes into the chicken, which will help the marinade penetrate the meat. Place the chicken in a sealable plastic bag and give the jar of Piri-Piri Sauce a really good shake. Pour half the marinade into the bag, and mix well with the chicken. Seal the bag and place in the fridge overnight (if unable to do overnight, just 1 hour will still be fine).
4. Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 6/200C. Get your griddle pan nice and hot, and griddle your chicken for a few minutes on each side to colour. Once you have some colour and lines from the griddle on your chicken, place in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked. Baste at least once with some of the remaining Piri-Piri Sauce. Alternatively, as I did in this time, you can barbecue.
5. Serve with Corn on the Cob, covered in butter with cracked black pepper and salad.


  1. That looks great, I look forward to trying it out on our Smoker!

  2. I like saying that "piri-piri".. fun!
    It looks delicious. Great job.

  3. Man oh man this looks amazing! I definitely need to try this when I have access to a kitchen again. Or maybe just a few bricks, some charcoal and a little wire mesh! Fabbo job


  4. I found African Bird's Eye chillies at I made the sauce , it was delicious !