Piri piri is a fiery, bright orange hot sauce with roots in Portugal, Angola and Mozambique. You can buy the bottled stuff at most grocery stores, but the homemade version is world’s apart. You can slather it on just about anything, but there’s no better pairing than chicken. There are many variations of piri piri chicken, but we’ve based this one on the dishes found in Canada’s many Little Portugals. To ensure the chicken cooks evenly, we’ve used a technique called spatchcocking (also referred to as butterflying). It may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple, you just need a good pair of kitchen shears.
Piri Piri Spatchock Chicken
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
1 500-ml jar roasted red peppers, drained
5 to 6 Thai chilis, stems removed
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil, divided
1.5-kg whole chicken, at room temperature
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1. In the top of a blender, whirl peppers with chilis, garlic, oregano and salt until smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to cook out any raw flavours, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes (do not skip this step, as it can be dangerous to blend hot liquids). Return mixture to blender. Add lemon juice and whirl on low to combine. With the motor still running, carefully remove the blender lid and slowly stream in oil. Scrape into a liquid measuring cup, you should have about 2 1/2 cups. Reserve 1/2 cup for basting chicken.
2. Meanwhile, oil the grill, then preheat to medium-high.
3. Position chicken breast side-down on a clean cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along either side of the spine to remove the backbone. Flip chicken over and spread legs apart. Gently but firmly push down on the breastbone until you hear the wishbone snap. Tuck wings behind the breast, then transfer chicken to a baking tray. Pat dry with paper towel. Brush with remaining 1 Tbsp oil, then sprinkle with 1 salt, smoked paprika and pepper.
4. Place chicken skin-side down on grill. Lower heat to medium and cook, with lid closed, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Brush with reserved piri piri sauce, then carefully flip chicken. Continue to cook, brushing with sauce every 10 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, about 40 minutes.
5. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carve away legs and place on a clean cutting board. Find the joint connecting the thigh and drumstick and slice between it. Repeat with other leg. Remove breasts and cut in half width-wise. Remove wings. Transfer to a platter, and serve with remaining piri piri sauce.
Kitchen Tip: Every barbecue performs differently, so adjust heat levels to maintain a temperature between 300°F and 350°F. Keep a close eye on your chicken to avoid flare-ups!