Piri piri chicken originates from southern Portugal. Although variations of it abound, the common elements found in most recipes are: hot pepper (piri piri or bird’s eye chili), citrus, oil, and red pepper. For me, I can’t think of piri piri without paprika.
I ran across Jamie Oliver’s recipe for piri piri chicken and it was the first time I’d seen a recipe call for so much paprika. I’ve always had paprika but only used it to dust the tops of deviled eggs. Now it has a real purpose, piri piri purpose!
The lights of Budapest
And nobody does paprika like the Hungarians.
When Jerry and I visited Hungary, I was completely unprepared for the grandeur of Budapest. It began as a Celtic settlement and then grew into a Roman capital around 103 A.D. The Huns came into the area during the 9th century, hence the name Hungary.
In 1241 the Mongols sacked the city and it wasn’t until the 15th century that it flourish once again as a Renaissance cultural center.
Seated directly on the Danube, I was awed by their state buildings. They are huge and magnificent. The parliament building was built in 1904 when Hungary was 3 times the size it is now. Pictures can not do them justice. To the west, Parliament stands completely lit and reflected in the night’s black water. To the east, is the cathedral and medieval walls also glowing with golden light. Spectacular.
Well deserved praise
Budapest is cited as being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It also ranks as one of the highest on the EIU’s best quality of life indexes, Conde Naste gives it the #2 spot for “World’s Best City,” and Forbes touts it as Europe’s 7th best place to live. Believe the hype. And it’s reflected in the people. They are absolutely genuine and oh so nice.
You could loose yourself here for days and days. On one side of the river (old Pest) you wander narrow medieval cobblestone streets. On the other side (Buda), it’s the height of Victorian architecture and my favorite… The Grand Hall Market. YES!!!
Oooooh… Let’s go inside!
How to amaze and delight family and friends with Piri Piri
Even though Piri Piri Chicken does not originate from Hungary, I still associate it with this dish. The paprika turns the sauce a deep crimson that takes me back to the Budapest’s market. Before it goes into the oven it smells of bright lemons with deep under tones of onion and smokey paprika.
When it comes out, the onion has mellowed and joined with the paprika and lemon that strikes just the right balance with the basil. Don’t leave the basil out of this party. She’s that key component that you don’t really notice unless she’s not there.
Tip: write this recipe down on a 3×5 card and hide it in the pantry or kitchen drawer. Make sure your sweetheart or kids are near by so they can see how cool you are. Start throwing everything into the blender (don’t let them see you use the recipe). Blitz – Pour – Bake! Presto! You are a superstar!!! Didn’t even need a recipe. Boo Yah! Just pulled that one right out of the air. Oh yeah, you totally rock!
Piri Piri Chicken Recipe
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 large roasted red pepper quartered
- 1 medium red onion quartered
- 8 basil leaves
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Put the chicken and roasted red peppers in a casserole dish
- Put all the other ingredients in a blender, except the thyme. Blend on high until smooth.
- Pour this over the chicken and peppers. Top with the sprigs of thyme.
- Bake for 1 hour or until chicken temperature reads 160 degrees.
Serve over wild rice, white rice, or cous cous. A side salad and broccoli go well with this as would a side of ratatouille or braised asparagus with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese.
I'm not big on sweet wines, but they do go very nicely if I've gone heavy on the red pepper flakes. If you like your Piri Piri on the spicy side try a dry Reisling or if it's not too spicy a Sauvignon Blanc is good with it too.