Portuguese Peri-Peri Spatchcock Chicken Recipe…. Some Like it Hot!

I recently had the pleasure of a wonderful meal at one of Durban’s best – Dish in Umhlanga. Check out the review here. To our delight we found Chef Daniel Vieira in the kitchen. Daniel, one of 3 brothers, went to school with both of our boys at Dfurban High School and is of Portuguese parentage. They were all good mates and ‘Pora’, Daniel brother spent many Saturday nights on our couch – in their early teen ‘jolling’ days. His mum and I would often sit on the side-lines of the billions of sporting events we attended and swop recipes. Her Prego steak rolls were legendary! During dinner at Dish Daniel, Ric and I we spent ages reminiscing about our Italian and their Portuguese food and soon enough we found ourselves waxing lyrical about his mum’s Prego rolls. You just can’t sit and talk about juicy Prego Steak rolls and not awaken the peri-peri monster in one. From the moment we left the restaurant peri peri chicken was all Trickyricci and I could think of.

So here we go – with summer struggling its way back into KZN – it didn’t take long before it was on the table. I bought three beautiful chickens from the organic chicken traders at Essenwood Craft market the Saturday before last. They spent 24 hours wallowing like a lazy group of hippos in Ma Vieira’s wonderful marinade. Max and Tricky tried everything to get me to make them after just a few hours in the marinade – oh no!!! NONONNO …. I made them wait the obligatory 24hours to make sure that those flavours had infused right down to the bone!!

Vieira Peri-Peri Marinade


3Tbs Peri Peri

3 large lemons – juice and rinds

10 bay leaves

10 cloves of garlic

2tbs fleur du sel

Black pepper – a good grinding

1Tbs smoked paprika

1/2 a bottle of dry white wine

1/2cup olive oil

6 large onions finely sliced into rings

3 stems of fresh rosemary

2Tbs ground cumin


Mix this whole lot up in a nice big jug – remember that I am marinating 3 chickens here so my quantities are quite large, but at the end of the day – no matter how many chickens you make you DO want a nice big bowl of peri-peri sauce to put on the table. So go for it – make the whole enchilada and you will have spare sauce for some steak rolls if you like.

Mince the garlic in a garlic press and add this to all of the other ingredients.

I find it’s better to spatch cock your chickens because whole chickens on the braai are tricky little devils – so I spatch cock them – marinate them – par cook them either in the oven for 25 minutes at 180d or the microwave for 10 minutes each and just finish them off on the coals or gas braai for literally 5 minutes.

Here’s how to Spatchcock a Chicken

Turn you chicken breast side down

Using some scissors cut from the bum right through to the neck

Open it out and flatten it – use one hand over the other and push down with your whole body weight on the breast bone until it cracks – it’s a bit creepy but your chicken will be nice and flat if you do this.

Cut gashes into the breasts and thighs to allow the marinade to

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penetrate well.

Place each bird into a Ziploc bag and divide the marinade between them – I throw in the “empty” squeezed lemons as well for a bit of extra flavour.

Zip them up – give them a good shake and pop them into the oven for the night!

I par cook each one for 10 minutes in the microwave and then finish them off on the braai for 5 minutes to get that nice smokey – chargrilled – crispy skin and wings finish.

Pour the marinade into a frying pan and reduce till you get a nice hot and spicy peri-peri dipping sauce.

I have served them with red peppers stuffed with a Mediterranean style couscous (next week I will post this recipe) and a simple salad dressed with my honey & mustard salad dressing .

Your guests will be licking their fingers right down to their elbows –

the chicken is packed full of flavour and juice.

As always

Buon Appetito




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