As we discussed in my previous paper on this subject, the secret to making the best chicken in the world is Piri Piri. If you don’t know by now, Piri Piri sauce is to Portuguese Chicken what Cagney is to Lacey. B1 is to B2. The Tardis is to Doctor Who. Without a great Piri Piri, chicken is just chicken. It has no mojo.
The origins of the sauce come from Angola and Mozambique, who both have ancient versions of chilli sauce and who customarily use chillies in their cooking. You could almost say that chilli occurs no where else in Portuguese cooking, at least only as an exotic ingredient and certainly not in any other national, fundamental dish.
In trying to crack the recipe par excellence I’ve gone to neighbours, to friends, their parents and grandparents, to restaurants and to the internet. All recipes for Molho Piri Piri have as their basis malagueta chillies, olive oil and whisky. The most common variations are using a different alcohol or vinegar, and adding lemon, garlic, bay and other spices.
I’ve tried a few now and I was happy with my own lemony brew which I shared before. But now I have turned to the master (or mistress if you prefer), Elvira, and it is her recipe which I will declare the perfect piri piri sauce.
It is just goddam delish. Not too hot, thick enough to stick, and mighty tasty. Note however that Elvira refers to her chillies as piri-piris, and most other recipes refer to malaguetas as the variety to use for this sauce, so here I have specified malaguetas too. I’ve had too many different explanations about whether malaguetas are piri piris and whether or not piri piri is just the correct translation of the english word chilli, which we spell in a variety of ways further illustrating the elasticity of language. Blah-de-blah-blah. Maybe Elvira herself will drop by and give us the final word on this piri piri / malagueta lingistic phenomenon. Ditto Isabel.
8 red malaguetas (about 8-10 cms long, finger width, but not sweet like Thai chillies)
3 green malaguetas
teaspoon of sweet paprika
zest of one lemon
clove of garlic
200ml extra virgin olive oil
pinch of rock salt
wine glass of either balsamic vinegar, port, brandy or scotch.
Even in this situation I will still only use recipes as a guide. Not because I don’t think Elvira’s is perfect, but because I know how I like it. I can never see the point in only one clove of garlic, for example. I used three. My lemon zest seemed a bit skimpy so I added some more, and I chose a nice bottle of scotch for the punch, giving a small glass to the sauce and the rest to me. But one day I will try the balsamic version. Balsamic & chicken sounds wild and amazing.
You put all the ingredients into a blender or a food processor or a bamix thingy and grind it up until it looks good. I marinated my chicken in it for a few hours before barbequing.
Super seriously yummo, and it also makes a boring pork chop very worthy.
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