Piri Piri Chicken is roasted with a spicy citrus marinade that makes it the perfect meal for your next summer cookout!
Hot Sauces Grow In Popularity
While Christopher Columbus first introduced chili peppers to the Old World, it was the Portuguese colonists who took inspiration from their colonies in Angola and Mozambique in South Africa and brought the hot chilies, and sauces using them, to wide popularity in other parts of Europe and Asia.
Piri Piri (or Peri Peri) is the Swahili word for ‘pepper pepper.’ The marinade for this chicken is heavy on the spicy African Bird’s Eye chilies with a bright citrus accent.
Making Piri Piri Chicken
This dish is incredibly simple: chicken is marinated in a hot chili marinade and then grilled. The entire concept is incredibly similar to that of Jamaican Jerk Chicken, however the flavor is vastly different.
While Jamaican Jerk Chicken hits you with an intense heat carried by deep and dark flavors of allspice and herbs, Piri Piri Chicken brings on the heat in a brighter, more subtle way.
Piri Piri sauce consists of a blend of chilies, oil, garlic, herbs, and lemon juice. The acid adds a brightness to the heat and helps to tenderize the meat as it marinades. Don’t get us wrong, the heat is still there (African Bird’s Eye Chilies are hot ones!), but it is lightened and accented by the bright, citrus-y flavor of lemon.
Pairing Piri Piri Chicken with Portuguese Wine
We paired our Piri Piri Chicken with a Verdelho from Herdade do Esporao. Verdelho is a white grape that is grown in Portugal, most commonly on the island of Madeira. The Verdelho grape is one of the dryer of the four main grapes used to make the different types of Madeira wine. Did you know that Madeira wine isn’t just that sweet, amber wine used only for cooking in the States? We’ll admit, this was a new discovery for us. There are Madeira wines that range from sweet and fruity to dry and clean. We’ll be thinking about that the next time we see a bottle of Madeira wine. But, we digress.
The Verdelho grape produces a drier white wine with prominent flavors of citrus fruit. The wine was crisp and full of flavor. It would have been a perfect wine for sipping on a lazy summer afternoon.
When paired with the chicken’s heat and citrus flavors, the wine took on a beautifully complementary role, accenting the flavors of the marinade and providing a clean and refreshing finish to each bite.
- 1 (5-6 lb) whole chicken
- 1 1/2 c Piri Piri Sauce
Remove the giblet bag form the chicken and place it, breast side down on a large cutting board. Starting at the tail end, cut along one side of the backbone to spatchcock the chicken using sharp kitchen scissors. Turn the chicken 180 degrees and cut along the other side of the backbone to remove it. Flip the chicken over and press firmly on the breastbone to flatten it further. (For pictures of How to Spatchcock a Chicken, click HERE.)
Gently work your hands under the skin of the breast and thigh to separate the meat from the skin, while leaving the skin intact. Spoon roughly 1 cup of Piri Piri Sauce under the skin and massage it into the meat the best you can. (Click HEREto find out why we do this!) (Alternately, pour the Piri Piri Sauce over top of the skin. But, the flavor will be MUCH BETTER if you are willing to get your hands a little dirty!)
Place the chicken in a 9x13 baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for at least four hours, up to overnight.
When you are ready to cook your chicken, take it out of the refrigerator. Preheat your grill to 400F. (You should be able to hold your hand just above the cooking grate for 6 seconds.)
Place the marinated chicken, breast-side-up, over the hottest part of the grill. Cover the grill and reduce the heat to 350F. Check the grill after 15 minutes of cooking to be sure that the heat has gone down. Re-cover the grill and cook the chicken for an additional 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is golden and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160F. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover it with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
After the chicken has rested, chop it into serving-sized pieces using a large butcher's knife. Serve with extra Piri Piri Sauce.
This chicken is wonderful served with roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes and a salad.
*If serving a large group, we find that 3/4 lbs of bone-in, raw chicken per person is a good rule of thumb for a main dish served with sides.
Take a look at the pairings below for a taste of the flavors of Portuguese wine!
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing “Vinho Verde Caldeirada with Pluot Port Granita”
- Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva shares “Is Portuguese Wine the Fountain of Youth?”
- Constance from Vinhos do Alentego is featuring “Alentejano Black Pork with Clams”
- David from Cooking Chat shares “Grilled Pork with Portuguese Potatoes and Kale”
- Jade of Tasting Pour is pairing “ Portugal’s Green Wine with Stew Fresh from the Sea.”
- Jeff from food wine click shares “Perfect Pairing with Port”
- Jennifer from Vino Travels shares “Agro Batoreu Terre Silvestre Portugese Blend with Asian Pork”
- Lori from Draceana Wines features “Portugal: Not just for Port. Who Knew?”
- Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog tempts us with “Taste of Portugal:Grilled Fish Setubal Style and 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado”
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares “Portuguese Wines: Just Say Yes”
- Nancy from Pull That Cork pairs “Amêijoas na Cataplana with Soalheiro Alvarinho”
- Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere pairs “Piri Piri Chicken with Verdelho”
- Wendy creator of A Day in the Life on a Farm shares “A Tawny Port from Portugal served with Grilled Figs topped with Goat Cheese”
David of Cooking Chat started this event in June of 2014, and every month since then this group of wine and food lovers have had a great time! For more background, check out the original post announcing Wine Pairing Weekend. You can see the full list of past and upcoming #winePW events here.