Grilled piri piri chicken with potato crisps

Grilled piri piri chicken with potato crisps

Frango na brasa com piri piri

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Serves
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You’ll no doubt have heard of piri piri chicken, as it features on the menu of several international restaurant chains. Their reinvention of the dish has nothing on the real thing, which is spatchcocked and cooked slowly over charcoal, constantly basted with hot, fragrant butter. It originated in Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, where the fiery piri piri or malagueta chillies were grown. If you cook it on a wood-fired grill you might be transported to this far-away tropical place – but you can also roast it in the oven!

Freshly fried potato crisps are eaten throughout Portugal as a snack, or to accompany sandwiches and rotisserie chicken. Traditionally, the crisps are served salted, but there are many other flavouring options you can try. You can use salts, herbs and chilli oils to enhance your crisps – the sky really is the limit in terms of the seasoning.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.6kg whole chicken
2 bay leaves
40g butter
1 tablespoon brandy
a large handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
sea salt flakes
ground white pepper

For the piri piri paste

Quantity Ingredient
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
1 lemon, roughly diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt flakes
cracked black pepper

For the potato crisps

Quantity Ingredient
3 medium potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward
vegetable oil, for frying
your choice of chopped herbs, flavoured salts and oils, to taste (optional)

Method

  1. Spatchcock the chicken, or ask your butcher to do it for you. This involves removing the backbone so that the chicken can be completely flattened out, ensuring even and quick cooking. Put the chicken breast-side down on a board, its legs facing towards you. With strong kitchen scissors, cut along both sides of the backbone from the tail to the head to remove it. Spread the chicken out and turn it over, then press down on the breastbone firmly until you have flattened it. Make a few diagonal slashes along the breast on each side. Season the skin generously with salt and pepper and chill for 2 hours. This draws out moisture for increased flavour and makes the skin crisper during cooking.
  2. To make the piri piri paste — Pound the garlic, chilli, lemon and olive oil with sea salt and white pepper in a pestle and mortar or blitz them with a stick blender or small food processor. Rub the paste all over the chicken skin and leave to marinate for another 2 hours, if you have time.
  3. To make the potato crisps — Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can, using a mandolin. Rinse them under cold water to remove excess starch so that they don’t colour too quickly when frying. Pat them dry with kitchen paper, then put the slices in a clean tea towel and carefully wring it out to squeeze out all the moisture. One-third fill a large, heavybased pan with oil and heat it to 165°C. Fry the potatoes in small batches for 3–5 minutes, or until cooked but still pale. Remove the crisps with a slotted spoon and increase the oil temperature to 180°C. Fry the crisps again briefly in batches until golden and crispy. (Do not overcrowd the pan, and take care that the oil temperature does not rise too high.) Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and whatever flavourings you wish to use.
  4. To cook the chicken — Preheat the oven to 220°C. Put the bay leaves on a baking tray and place the chicken on top. Roast for 45 minutes–1 hour, or until cooked through, basting regularly. Remove and transfer to a warm plate to rest for about 15 minutes. Pour all the cooking juices from the dish into a pan, including the lovely fat. Warm the juices, adding the butter and brandy. Simmer gently for 1–2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Pour over the chicken and serve immediately with the crisps.
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