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The Original Piri Piri Sauce - History and Recipe

piri piri chicken .jpg

For almost 200 years now people have been arguing back and forth as to who invented Piri Piri Sauce - it depends who you talk to. Both Portugal and west Africa claim it as their own. We like to think it sits somewhere in between, the outcome, that special blend when two diverse cultures mix and combine to come up with something special.

Virtually every recipe and there are many, claim to be the best. We love a good story and this is certainly one of them. Cooking a recipe 200 years old always adds a little extra spice and zest and add that little extra flavour as you finally sit down to enjoy the end result.

Here is the story and recipe from Trevliza.

‘The genuinely authentic piri piri sauce has been "bastardized" by every recipe claiming to be the original! I am 70 and was raised in Rhodesia and ate chicken piri piri from a young age because it was "invented" in our neighboring country of Mozambique. Portugal sent chilies to its two African colonies of Angola and Mozambique about 200 years ago because it could not find a commercial use for them, and it was in the town of Beira (Mozambique) in the late 1890s that an elderly lady managed to produce this superlative of all salivating sauces. She only used two ingredients (3 if you include a little water), but ingeniously created a taste that transcends all others. The ingredients? Birds eye chillies and lemon juice. The secret? Simmer the diced up chillies in the lemon juice for at least 8 hours adding just enough water to stop the mixture catching, but not enough to prevent the caramelisation of the mixture. The enzymes of both ingredients dance tenderly together in this slow process and a flavour is born that is neither viciously hot nor too acidic, but instead sweet, in a smokey way, and piquant without the bite. And a smell to entice the most numbed of nostrils! Once cooked to perfection the mixture would then be blended with a mortise and pestle to a juicy paste adding water, if necessary, for consistency . I, too, have bastardized this process, but it has not distracted from the original outcomes and flavour. I use an electric blender (juicer) to combine the chilies and lemon juice and then (barely) simmer the liquid for 8-10 hours instead of grinding it to a paste. My preference is 100 grams of chillies to 14 lemons for a stronger, hotter sauce, but it can be adjusted to half or a quarter of the chilii content to suit other tastes. I also love lots of salt on my meat, but not in the sauce.

Use recipe above - then BBQ or oven

Baste a whole butterflyed chicken with Piri Piri sauce and marinate (min 2 hours, overnight for fuller flavour)

Place on rack (if you have one) over baking paper in oven and cook for 1 hour at 180 celsius or until cooked and meat is a good colour.

Other variations of this recipe include: 4 tbsp lemon juice, 5 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar (balsamic gives an excellent flavour), 1 tbsp each of cayenne pepper, garlic - minced, chilli flakes and paprika, 1 tsp salt. Add ingredients and whisk together. Cook as above.

Obviously you can select different chicken cuts if you prefer.

This sauce can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 weeks before using.

Rice, potatoes and coleslaw are popular accompaniments in Portugal.

Good Luck!