Can it be true that I’ve not posted a recipe for Portuguese Chicken before now? It’s a mainstay of the grill, getting a run at least once a week. The reasons will become obvious once you try it – it’s easy, delicious, and has a broad appeal.
Now, let me be clear – I make no claims for its authenticity. I’ve refined this recipe from a fair bit of research and it is in fact not terribly authentic, but it has enough of the key features of Portuguese Chicken for me to name it thus, and I’m pretty happy with the taste.
The keys are lemon juice, paprika, herbs and chilli. Take any one of those away and it becomes something else. I generally use chicken thigh fillets. Thigh chops (with bone) are fine too, but the bone does not add a lot in terms of taste and add extra hassle. It also makes the dish less versatile, as the fillets are easy to slice for serving and the chicken can be added to other meals. It’s a mistake to use breast fillets though; the thigh has much better flavour and the slight fat content keeps it all moist.
I allow two fillets, or roughly 200g per person. Trim any obvious excess fat, but do not attempt to remove it all. Place the pieces in a bowl and add the juice of one lemon per kg of chicken. add a good covering of smoked paprika, a covering of mixed dried herbs and a couple of lugs of sweet chilli sauce.
Mix well with your fingers and allow to stand for half an hour to one hour before it hits the charcoal. Cooking time is the standard 30 mins over low coals, covered if you are able.
The variation comes with the type and amount of chilli you use. I’ve suggested sweet chilli sauce as the sugar allows the chicken to blacken up nicely as it cooks, and the sweetness is good as long as it’s not overdone. For more authenticity use unsweetened chilli paste, or add some of this in combination with the sweet chilli. My recipe provides a decent starting point though, that you can change as you wish. Be generous with the paprika; it’s expensive if you buy it in little jars from the supermarket, but very cheap in bulk, so seek it out.
It can be served with just about anything; a salad, rice, couscous or roast potatoes. Any leftovers will make great chicken sandwiches.