A little after we moved up here six years ago we discovered Peri-Peri chicken. We’re in a smaller town, but there’s a big Portuguese population, and they know how to cook (especially chicken!). One neighbour down the street opened up a Portuguese chicken joint (which has since grown to include a lot more than just chicken), and after seeing our small town explode online about how great it was, we had to try.
It is INCREDIBLE. Peri-Peri chicken is coated in this indescribably delicious and complex tasting marinade that has a bit of heat layered within some incredible smoky and garlicky flavour. They rotisserie it at Poleiro’s, then quickly cut it up into portions before sending it home with us in a big tray. It is just so much better than the other chain chicken restaurant found around Canada.
But, all that gushing aside, we can’t always order in when we feel like it, because we live on a pretty tight budget. I had to figure out how to make it at home *almost* as good as they do down at Poleiro’s. It had to be quick too, because this is a meal I’m used to being treated to on a night where life gets away from us, so outside of the cooking time, I wanted ten minutes or less of prep. I’ve got it figured out, and you’re going to love it!
You make a quick little marinade in the blender or food processor, rub some of it on a spatchcocked chicken, and toss it in the oven for an hour. Outside of a few brushes of marinade during cooking you’re done, and your house is smelling absolutely amazing. You’re welcome. If you want it really spicy, just increase the pepper flakes and add a bit of cayenne. If you want it traditional and incredible, toss in some birds-eye chili’s (but for this you’ll probably need to plan ahead, I don’t keep them stocked in the fridge). I’ve got to wait until the kids are a bit older to have that kind of fun.
One thing I forgot – Do NOT be afraid to spachcock a chicken. I didn’t try this for so long because I thought it was going to be hard and gross. It’s not. It’s the easiest thing to do (just cutting out one bone with a pair of scissors. It dramatically cuts down roasting time (we’re talking 25%), and it makes all of the skin on the chicken stay crisp. I do this ALL THE TIME now when I’m roasting chicken for dinner (ok, almost all the time). If you haven’t done this before, here’s a great tutorial via Martha.
- 1 whole roaster chicken, spachcocked
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on heat you want)
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- Juice of 1 lemon (¼ cup)
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 - 6 birds-eye chilis (optional, for great traditional heat, use only ½ tsp pepper flakes if using these fresh chilis)
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional for heat if you don't have birds eye chilis)
- Preheat your oven to 450ºF. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
- Spatchcock your chicken and season with salt and pepper.
- Put all the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set ¼ cup of the marinade aside.
- Rub the remaining marinade on top of the chicken. Separate the skin from the bird and spread some under there as well.
- Place the chicken breast side down onto the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
- Turn the chicken breast side up, brush with some of the reserved marinade, and continue roasting for an additional 30 minutes, brushing more marinade on every 10 minutes.
- When the chicken is fully cooked (should register 180ºF on an instant read thermometer), remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
The marinade can be made a day ahead, then stored in an airtight container in the fridge, and the flavour will be even better.
If you want some of the marinade for dipping (I always do), be sure to set it aside before brushing onto the chicken so you don't contaminate it.
Don't be afraid of spatchcocking, it's so much easier than you think. All you're doing is cutting out the backbone with a pair of scissors.