Peri Peri Chicken

The funny name, which comes from the African Piri Piri pepper, made this recipe very fun for my kids. Chris Kimball’s version of Peri Peri chicken uses Arbol Chiles, which are much easier to find, and marries with a traditional two-level barbecue technique. He further slows the cooking by using tap water in a disposable aluminum pan to help moderate the temperature of the cool-side of the grill.  The recipe’s varied list of ingredients made me skeptical; peanuts, chiles, five spice powder and lemon. But in the end, the flavors meld into a deliciously unique barbecued chicken. Unfortunately, I relied too heavily on the clock and stepped away from the grill with the chicken over the hot-side of the grill; which resulted in too much of a char. While this was only a 4-star execution, it’s a 4.5 star recipe; for its deep, complex richness.

Delicious; even if a little over charred

Delicious; even if a little over charred

While the recipe requires refrigerating chicken overnight with the paste applied, it makes the actual day of the barbecue very easy. You essentially do all the preparation the night before. Chris Kimball’s Yankee palate has influenced the recipe by providing a wide range of chiles; from 4 to 10. Today, I only used 4 because I was worried about my two sons. Next time I will use 7, because 4 chiles was quite mild.

Issues:

  1. Flare ups during Step 6 overly charred my chicken. It was my fault, because I walked away from the grill for a few minutes. The charring will happen much faster than you think; so don’t leave the chicken unattended even for a minute during Step 6.
  2. If you are using a gas grill; pre-heat the grill for 15 minutes with all burners on high. When ready to cook chicken primary burner to medium-high and turn off all other burners. Use two disposable pie plate; each filled with 1-1/2 cups of water; directly placed on 1 of the gas burners (opposite to the primary burner).

Rating: 4-to-4.5 stars.
Cost: $10.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 5:50 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

8 garlic cloves
1 shallot
4 to 10 arbol chiles
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves, crushed
6-lbs bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or drumsticks)
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 large disposable aluminum pan (13″x9″)
Lemon wedges

  1. Peel 8 cloves of garlic and 1 shallot; roughly chop and add to blender. Also add to blender: 4 arbols, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon five-spice powder, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and crumble 3 bay leaves.
  2. Process for 10 to 20 seconds until smooth. Taste the paste and add up to 6 more chiles; spice level will be hotter as paste than on chicken.
  3. Finely chop peanuts and add to a large bowl (I mixed some paste with the peanuts to prevent the nuts from flying everywhere as I chopped them). Also add the paste to bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Using a metal skewer to poke skin side of each chicken piece between 8 and 10 times. Add chicken to large bowl and toss until chicken is evenly coated with paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for between 6 hours and 24 hours.
  5. When you are ready to grill, open the bottom vents halfway and set a disposable aluminum pan filled with 3 cups of water on 1 side of the grill. Ignite a chimney starter filled with charcoal (about 6 quarts). After 25 minutes when the upper-most coals are partially covered with ask, evenly empty the coals on the side of the grill opposite the pan of water. Replace the grill grate, cover, and open the lid vent half-way. Pre-heat grill for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the cooking grate.
  6. Put the chicken with skin-side down over the hot side of the grill and cook for between 2 and 5 minutes until brown and blistering in spots. Flip chicken and continue to cook the second side for 4 to 6 minutes until the second side in browned.
  7. Move chicken with the skin-side up to the cool-side of grill; with the legs and thighs closer to the fire and the breasts further away. Set cover so that lid vent is directly over the chicken. Cook for between 50 to 60 minutes until white meat registers 160-degrees and dark meat registers 175-degrees.
  8. As the individual pieces of chicken come up to temperature remove them to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil; allowing to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Pass separately with lemon wedges.
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6 Responses to Peri Peri Chicken

  1. You’re a fast worker. I just saw this recipe in Cook’s Complicated, er, Illustrated this morning. I’m making it this weekend.

  2. Jonny Rashid says:

    Nice work. What did you serve it with? And was eating the bay leaves unusual?

  3. Thanks for posting this. Did you find the marinade very salty? Two tablespoons is a lot, and ours ended up incredibly salty. Next time I’ll cut down by half at least.

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