You can cook a chicken in a myriad of different ways but peri peri chicken is up there with one of the best. Charred crispy skin, thickened with a layer of spice, tender meat with smoky flavours and a heat that just doesn’t let up – every bite sets your mouth on fire before you can cool off with a dousing gulp of ice cold lager. Served with some toasty prego rolls on the side and you’ve got yourself a Portuguese feast.
Ingredients: Prep time: 10 mins plus overnight marinating time | Cook time: 45 mins | Serves: 4–6 1 whole chicken 2 cloves of garlic, cut into matchstick pieces ½ cup olive oil 1 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks Juice and zest of 2 lemons 2 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 red chilli, finely chopped (de-seeded if very hot)
Method: 1. To make really good peri peri chicken the whole chicken needs to be flattened out first. Cut down the middle of the breast from the underside down the side of the breast bone where the ribs join, using poultry shears or strong, sharp kitchen scissors, right through until you reach the end and the chicken falls open.2. Now turn it over and push down to flatten the back out. 3. Make small holes in the chicken using a small paring knife, and stud with sticks of garlic.
4. Blend together the olive oil, onion, juice and zest of the lemons, spices and chilli. You can either do this in a food processor like the Magimix or with a stick blender. If neither of these are available, dice your onions more finely and rely on vigorous arm action and a whisk or fork to blend it all together.
5. Rub this mixture into the entire chicken and allow to marinate for a few hours, or at best overnight.
6. You can either cook the chicken in the oven or on the fire. If you want that charred, peri-peri chicken vibe, definitely light the coals. Either way will work just fine, but for the authentic smoky flavor that extra effort will show!
To cook in the oven, preheat the oven to 230°C. Place the marinated chicken on a greased baking tray, or line one with baking paper if you prefer. The trick now is to be very generous with your seasoning – sprinkle around 2 really big pinches of salt and 1 big pinch or generous grind of pepper over the chicken. Pop it on the top shelf of the oven, and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180°C and cook for a further 10 or so minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
To cook in a Weber, heat the coals to a high to medium heat. Generously season your chicken – big grind of pepper and 2 large pinches of salt. Place over the coals (using an indirect heat method) for about 25 minutes, with the lid on, (if you’re doing this in a brick braai with a grid, cover the bird in foil, then turn) and cook a further 10–15 minutes lid on or off (depending on how smoky you want your chicken and the heat of your coals).Serve immediately with wedges of lemon and some Sriracha sauce if you like it extra spicy. Beers will be welcome on this one — as craft pairs exceptionally well with spicy foods and works nicely to quench the fiery palate.