A piri piri chicken mission
One of my favourite things to do when traveling, besides talking with locals, is trying the local food. When I just arrived in Portugal, one of the first things I saw was a WhatsApp message from my dad. That I should absolutely make it to Guia, since this little town is apparently famous for the piri piri chicken. This was something my dad did not have to tell me twice. On the second day, after a relaxed morning, I set off on a mission to try one of the most famous piri piri chicken restaurants in Guia.
The dish itself is actually referred to as frango assado in Portugal and originates from the Algarve area. It came into being after Portuguese colonists found the spicy piri piri peppers in Africa and brought them back home. The chilli in question looks like a bird’s eye chilli and is spicy but not too crazy hot. For the real Portuguese dish, the chicken needs to be spatchcocked, marinated in the chilli oil and grilled over an open fire.
Chicken piri piri was probably made famous world-wide because it is the signature dish of the large restaurant chain Nando´s. But the restaurant I decided to go to is supposed to have been the first to serve up this spicy chicken. The Ramires restaurant started as a small place in 1964, but by now covers three floors and is open every day of the year. When I visited part of the restaurant was closed due to Corona measures, but I can imagine how busy the place could be on other days. Fortunately, although it clearly is a great place to visit with friends, being alone there I did not feel out of place. And it was worth the trip to this sleepy town: no menu needed, you just have the chicken which comes with fries and a tomato salad. The piri piri chicken was juicy, succulent and the right amount of spicy. And importantly you could clearly taste the smokey barbecue flavour as well. All in all, sufficient reason to take a detour to Guia!
Unfortunately, since it is winter and it´s a bit cold for barbecuing in a park in Germany at the moment, I will probably have to wait to cook anything over an open fire until I visit my parents in Spain. But that is not a reason not to cook a dish that is inspired by the piri piri chicken but that can just be done in the oven. Of course, I can only advise you to travel to Portugal and try the real thing. But until then you could cook this oven-dish with chicken, potatoes and tomatoes.
Chicken, potato and tomato roast
Ingredients (for two)
- 300 grams of potatoes
- 300 grams of cherry tomatoes
- 4 small chicken thighs, with skin and bone
- 1 onion
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 red chilli
- Sweet smoked paprika powder – 1 heaped teaspoon
- Oregano – two heaped tablespoons
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
First of all, prepare the marinade for the chicken. Take the seeds out of the chilli and finely chop it. Mix this together with the lemon juice, paprika powder and a good pinch of salt. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and mix well. Pat the chicken tights dry with a paper towel. In some cases there is a lot of extra skin, which you can remove. Place the thighs in the bowl with marinate and rub the marinate all over the chicken. Make sure to also get the marinate in the pocket between the flesh and the skin. Set the chicken thighs aside.
Peel your potatoes. If they are small ones, just leave them whole. But if you have larger potatoes chop them in halves or quarters. Place in a pot, add water until they are totally under, and bring to a boil over a high fire. Once the water is boiling, turn the fire down to medium. Boil the potatoes for around 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, slice the onion in fine half rings. Chop the garlic in rough pieces. Also, start to preheat your oven to 200°C and take out an oven tray that is large enough so everything will fit in one layer.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them and let them cool down a bit. When you can handle them, squeeze the potatoes slightly before adding them to the tray so that they are partly smashed and can take on some more flavour. Prick the tomatoes with a sharp knife, against exploding in the oven, and add them to the tray as well. When this is done, also add the onion and garlic to the oven tray. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over it and add a pinch of salt, black pepper, and the oregano. Using a spoon, mix this all carefully together.
Place the chicken thighs over the vegetables, skin side up, and place the tray in the oven. Bake for around 40 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is done and everything looks golden and crispy.