Thursday, June 9, 2011

Double Take: Peri Peri Chicken

Today I am pleased to share a taste with Portuguese and African origins. Spoiler alert: Get ready for a ride through Ethiopian foods in some upcoming posts on Double the Garlic!

Ok, back to today's recipe. I first tried Peri Peri Chicken at Nando's Peri Peri in Washington D.C. In truth, I was looking for African food. I was initially rather disappointed to land at what appeared to be some sort of chain Portuguese restaurant.

What on earth? Who ever heard of a Portuguese chain? At least it would be interesting and I'd never had Portuguese food. It was pretty tasty. They had options for varying heat levels suited to satisfy any temperature of palate. Imagine my surprise when I found their sides included Portuguese spiced french fries, spicy rice and hold it...macho peas? I'd never seen peas on any restaurant menu. I made sure to try them and they were great.  If more places served peas that well, there wouldn't be adults making faces over other people eating peas. Instead, they'd all be smiling and asking for a few. Imagine that world.

This post is all about the chicken! I found this recipe on Sortachef's blog. There are more good recipes where this one came from so check it out! Meanwhile, ditch your fork for my adapted version of Peri Peri Chicken!

Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri Chicken (adapted from  Sortachef)


5 lbs of chicken legs
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. New Mexico chili powder (for mild taste buds, for more heat double)
2 lemons, cut into 8 pieces each
1/4 vegetable oil
2 tsp American chili powder, divided in half

optional: Want to really crank up the heat? Add up to 6 of your favorite hot chili peppers.

How To:

Step 1: Marinate those chicken legs!

           Place chicken legs in a dish.

           Stuff the lemon wedges into the chicken legs between the skin and the muscle. If you have a couple lemon wedges extra after stuffing one into each leg, set them beside the chicken in the dish.

            Pour on the vinegar, all the seasonings with the exception of reserving 1 tsp of American chili powder, and the vegetable oil.

            Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and marinate overnight or up to 24 hours.

Step 2: Cook those bird legs!

            Preheat an oven to 350 F.

            Place the chicken legs in a single layer in a 9x13 pan.

            Squeeze the lemon wedges over the chicken legs and sit the wedges in the edges of the pan.

            Bake the chicken for 1 hour.

            Basting the chicken with its juices every 20 minutes will add flavor but if you forget because you're watching the Season Finale of Bones on Tivo, it'll be tasty anyway.

Step 3: Cook the chicken legs again!

         *By now you may be saying,"WHAAAAT?". Seriously, stick with me here for crispy goodness on the outside and wonderfully succulent chicken on the inside.

            Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining 1 tsp of American chili powder.

            Next, finish the chicken. You have options here:

            a) Grill the chicken legs for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
            b) Bake the chicken at 425 F for another 25 minutes

            c) Cook the whole mixture in a pan over a campfire for 25 minutes.

             Either way you cook it, you should get a nicely browned, crispy skin.


Wow, it reminds me of a really flavorful fried chicken ...only it isn't fried. This baked or grilled chicken is packed with flavors that are well balanced (given plenty of time to marinate). I put the marinade together the evening before we planned to cook the meal. The marination time was about 20 hours. Becky and I cooked it while watching Bones the next evening. It had minimal work and minimal cleanup. BONUS! We boiled some fresh corn on the cob while the chicken finished baking and it complimented the chicken well.  In terms of ease and flavor, I thought this chicken was great! Becky liked the mild heat but if you want to amp it up, turn up the New Mexico chili powder or add some of your favorite chilis to the marinade.  Here's to a low maintenance weeknight dinner!

Hungry for second and third opinions? Hit up Mel's blog or check out responses to the original recipe here.

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