Peri Peri Grilled Chicken

We’re back!! Yes, after what has been an almost three month hiatus we’ll be back to regular posting and we’re excited. Mostly because our kitchen and bathroom renovation is complete and we have a kitchen that we can actually cook in together without hitting each other with cabinet doors, refrigerator doors, dishwasher doors, or you name it. If it was a door in the kitchen we had hit each other with it…sometimes even unintentionally.
So, since it’s been uncomfortably hot and humid here in DC over the last couple weeks, we decided to make our grand return with a recipe for the grill. And if there is one grilled chicken recipe that you make this summer let it be this one! It requires a bit of advance planning (it’s best if marinated in the spice paste overnight!) but it so worth it. Peri Peri chicken has roots in both Portugal and Africa and was created in Angola and Mozambique when Portuguese settlers arrived with chile peppers (known as piri-piri in Swahili.) The result of the fusion of cultures and spices is a chicken that is juicy, flavorful, and much more exotic and complex than your average American bbq chicken. Let us know if you try it!

Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Tora Bay, New Zealand Wine, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0

Full confession: Nathan got this wine as a gift at a work event. However, when I read about the wine and read some reviews I thought it would be a great complement to the chicken…so why not? The wine is light but intense meaning it was strong enough to stand up to the bold flavors in the chicken. The fruitiness and acidity cut through the spice while maintaining just a little sweetness. A lot of wine would disappear on the palate when confronted with the chicken but this wine did not! It was the perfect summery wine for a summery meal.

Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Brooklyn Summer Ale, Brooklyn Brewery
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0

Just like with a lot of rich, spicy dishes, the peri peri chicken called for a nice light beer that can wash down the meal. To boot, it has been in the high 90s with intense humidity so this beer was both great with the chicken and a relief from the heat. This is a well balanced beer that is light in body, crisp, but with just enough malt and hop flavors that it keeps from becoming bland. Perfect for hanging out on the deck and grilling on a hot summer day.

Peri Peri Grilled Chicken:

From this recipe
Serves 6-8

Start this recipe ahead! The coated chicken needs to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours before grilling. We marinated ours for 24 and it was awesome so I would suggest marinating for longer if you have the time!


4 -10 arbol chiles, stemmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 shallot, chopped
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 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or drumsticks), trimmed
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped fine 1
(13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum pan (if using charcoal) or 2 (9-inch) disposable aluminum pie plates (if using gas)
Lemon wedges


1. Process 4 arbols, oil, salt, garlic, tomato paste, shallot, sugar, paprika, five-spice powder, lemon zest and juice, pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves in blender until smooth, 10 to 20 seconds. Taste paste and add up to 6 additional arbol peppers, depending on desired level of heat (spice paste should be slightly hotter than desired heat level of cooked chicken), and process until smooth. Using metal skewer, poke skin side of each chicken piece 8 to 10 times. Place chicken pieces, peanuts, and spice paste in large bowl or container and toss until chicken is evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
2A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway and place disposable pan filled with 3 cups water on 1 side of grill. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over other half of grill (opposite disposable pan). Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
2B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Place 2 disposable pie plates, each filled with 1 1/2 cups water, directly on 1 burner of gas grill (opposite primary burner). Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature between 325 and 350 degrees.) 3. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side down, on hotter side of grill and cook until browned and blistered in spots, 2 to 5 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until second side is browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Move chicken to cooler side of grill and arrange, skin side up, with legs and thighs closest to fire and breasts farthest away. Cover (positioning lid vent over chicken if using charcoal) and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and legs and thighs register 175 degrees, 50 to 60 minutes.
4. Transfer chicken to serving platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving, passing lemon wedges separately.

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