Monday, August 23, 2010

Peri-Peri Chicken - very very delicious!

The name Peri Peri is used in Mozambique to describe the African bird's-eye chili. In Mozambican cuisine, Peri Peri (or Piri Piri) is often used in preparing sauces and marinades for roast and grilled dishes, especially chicken and seafood. Peri Peri is also used in all kinds of dishes in Portuguese cuisine - in Australia we commonly associate it with "Portuguese Charcoal Chicken" - chicken that is marinated in the Peri - Peri sauce and then baked flat over coals. The name actually comes from the Tupi language in Brazil - Portuguese traders introduced it to Africa along with other species of capsicum and chillies. Whatever the name, it is a delicious way to prepare food, especially if you like a bit of spice. Adjust it to your taste, but it really does benefit from being on the spicy side.

I served my Peri-Peri Chicken with Patatas Bravas (a Spanish favourite - twice cooked potatoes , first par boiled then shallow fried - topped with a spicy tomato sauce, aoli and finely sliced spring onion.)  I also served a bowl of sweet corn on the cob with coriander butter - Yum!!! The chicken will go well with a salad, baked potatoes and sour cream, or rice. It is also excellent cold as a picnic or buffet dish. You can use the sauce to cook seafood (it is fabulous with fish or prawns) and if you dont want to do the chicken whole, it can work well with chicken pieces or even just wings (a great budget option)

You can buy Peri Peri sauce in a bottle, but why not make your own? It is very quick and easy and you can adjust the flavours however you like it. You can also freeze the sauce, so it is worth making a big batch and dividing it into portions so you always have some on hand to jazz up whatever meat you happen to have around. Here's how I served it...

Peri-Peri Chicken served with Patatas Bravas and corn with coriander butter

You will need:
1 whole range chicken, 1 cup roasted red capsicums (you can roast them for yourself, buy them from a deli or get them out of a jar - whatever works for you), 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder, 1-2 teaspoons finely chopped or minced chilli (according to your taste), Juice of 1 lime (Do NOT use that awful lime juice in a bottle - it is absolutely vile and full of preservatives. If you can't get lime then use 1/2 a fresh lemon), 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons warm water, salt and pepper to taste, fresh coriander or extra lime wedges to serve.

To make the Peri-Peri sauce - Combine the capsicum, cayenne, coriander,chilli, lime juice, paprika, garlic, olive oil, sugar, water and salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more chilli or salt if required. Set aside.

Wash the chicken with cold water and dry inside and out with paper towels. Lay the chicken on a chopping board breast down. Now, with a sharp knife cut down either side of the backbone. This will remove the backbone/tail in one piece - disguard this backbone. If there is any offal attached to the remaining chicken, trim it off.

Next, turn the chicken over so that it is breast up. With the palm of your hand, push down firmly to flatten the chicken out. Now that the backbone is removed, this will be quite easy.

Use half of the Peri- Peri mixture and rub this into the chicken very well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (overnight is ideal). Reserve and refigerate the other half of the Peri-Peri mixture for later.

Cook the chicken for about 45-60 mins in a moderate oven or a covered BBQ, such as a Weber until the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh/leg area. Baste the chicken as you go with the remaining peri-peri sauce and turn a few times during the cooking process.

Cooking times will vary according to how large your chicken is. I cook my chicken in the oven on a wire rack - this allows good hot air circulation and speeds up cooking time - but you can simply place it on a baking dish/tray if you don't want to do that.

Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving with fresh coriander sprigs and extra lime wedges. This recipe will serve 4-8 people, depending on the size of your chicken and your appetite.


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