Spicy Piri Piri Chicken Recipe
A Journey Into Africa
Getting your piri piri chicken fix here in the United States isn’t easy but it's doable. This fantastic spicy dish’s origins are Portuguese and West African, and nobody really knows who made it first; however, since it was the Portuguese who introduced the bird's eye chili to Western Africa, I'm going with the Portuguese. I first had this fantastic piri piri chicken dish in South Africa and later again in Angola.
Yes, my past work has taken me to some interesting places. And having the chance to travel, what foodie and chef wouldn't seek out the best of the best in fine dinning?
This is one of those dishes that you have to have, and when you're not in that country of origin, you seek out ways to make or find it. Piri piri chicken is that dish.
When I was in South Africa, I had some amazing foods like wildebeest stew, biltong (jerky), boerewors (sausage), and some of the best-tasting meats I ever had in the world. The country, people, and food are awesome. Make some piri piri chicken and grab a nice glass of South African wine. It will be like you're traveling into the heart of the black continent.
I had to make piri piri sauce the Portuguese way, and I'll show you a little secret trick to top it. Simple fact is, not everyone has bird's eye chilies readily available, but substitutions can work.
Enjoy this fantastic dish and your trip into Africa.
-The Drunken Chef
- 2 Lbs. Chicken Breast
- 1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar, White or Balsamic
- 6 to 10 Birds Eye Chilies, or Japones Peppers
- 1 Bunch Cilantro Leaves, Fresh/Chopped
- 3 Lemons
- 7 Garlic, Cloves
- 2 Tbsp Paprika, Powder
- 1 Jar Cherry Pepper, Hoagie Spread
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 6 Tbsp Olive Oil
Piri Piri Chicken Instructions
- Pour 6 tbsp. olive oil in pan and set to low heat. Add garlic, red chilies, paprika, and chopped cilantro to oil and simmer.
- Pour in red wine vinegar and lemon juice and slices of lemon and continue to simmer on low heat.
- Optional: When I want to make more piri piri sauce and do not have a lot of red chilies, I add 1 cup of cherry pepper spread to the mixture.
- Continue simmering mixture for 45 minutes to 4 hours. (Yes, you read that correctly) If you want to make an authentic piri piri sauce, it is sometimes simmered for hours. (From 4 to 10 hours.)
- Once mixture simmers for 45 minutes, let cool for 10 minutes and either mortar & pestle it (the old school way) or use a food processor to whip and mix the mixture. As I use my food processor, I drizzle olive oil in. About a cup or so. (See photos below.)
- Take your chicken breast and pound them out to tenderize with meat tenderizer or mallet. (I use a mallet) Note: You can use any type of chicken parts for this dish: thighs, drum, breast, etc. This sauce is also used on fish and pork.
- Pour marinade over chicken breasts and let marinate for 10 minutes to over night. Its up to you how long you want to marinate your poultry. I did mine for 10 minutes and it was great. Some people don't even marinate the chicken and just brush it on when its on the grill.
- Get your grill going and get it hot. I grilled my marinated chicken breasts over direct heat on a hot grill to get the char marks as I basted the chicken with the piri piri sauce, Note: Do not use the Piri Piri sauce the chicken was marinated in. Use the extra sauce you have.
- Continue basting your chicken on the grill with the piri piri sauce and squeeze lemon juice on the chicken too, until chicken is done cooking. (See photos below.)
- The piri piri sauce is also used as a condiment so if you like it hot, knock yourself out. Serve with yellow or white rice. Garnish with extra cilantro leaves.