Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (well-balanced flavours that complement each other)
THE TEST: Let me start off my saying that my husband thinks I’m the victim of my own expectations. I think he may be right.
It’s no secret that since returning to the world of full-time work four years ago, my blog has suffered terrible neglect. Try as I might – finding a work/life/blog balance continues to elude me. But when the January issue of Food & Wine Magazine arrived in my mailbox and I laid eyes on the piri piri chicken and fries gracing the cover, I was filled with a strong sense of determination. This cover recipe must be made and will mark my triumphant return to the world of food blogging.
Yes – this was going to happen.
The entire month goes by and I start panicking. Quick phone call to our favourite butcher (insert shout-out to Pasture to Plate!) revealed they were sold out of chicken breasts and thighs so in an act of desperation I pulled a package of wings out of the freezer and left in the fridge to thaw overnight. My plan was to make the piri piri marinade in the morning before work and then leave the chicken to infuse with all that spicy goodness until we got home.
Of course in my mind things went a lot more smoothly than reality.
It didn’t take long for me to become flustered as I juggled getting ready for work, making lunches for the kids, micro-managing getting them dressed because after all these years it still seems to be a struggle to get socks on, while simultaneously trying to make the marinade. With my work phone in one hand responding to emails and the other pouring cereal for a hangry kid, things quickly spun out of control.
I managed to stage my first photo for the blog post but couldn’t find my SLR camera. Quick phone call to Mr. Spock confirmed it was at his office. No problem, that’s why iPhones have such a great camera – for times like this. I grab my cellphone and get ready to take the first shot only to find my memory was full. I hastily plugged it into my computer and started downloading all of my files to make room.
Meanwhile the kids are starting to stare at me in a weird way.
“Mom – are you okay?”
“Yup – just busy being the victim of my own expectations!”
“Okay. But I need you to sign my homework book and there’s a field trip form I need to return today….”
You get the picture.
I finally snapped my first pic and moved on to chopping the red Thai peppers (couldn’t find red jalapeños or fresno peppers to save my life), dried chiles de árbol, garlic, shallot, ginger and cilantro. Did I remember about the hot peppers when applying my make-up? Nope – not until I went to blend my eye cream.
I buzzed everything in the blender along with champagne vinegar, olive oil and sweet smoked paprika then seasoned with salt and pepper and mixed with the chicken. A valiant effort went into trying to make the blender photo look Instagram worthy but I couldn’t get it right and in the end my eldest daughter took my phone away because by this point she was seriously worried they’d be late for school. So I quickly doused the chicken with the marinade and tossed into the fridge for later and hustled out the door.
THE RESULTS: After the morning mayhem I can’t tell you how lovely it was to have Mr. Spock pick-up the kids and start barbequing the wings, so that by the time I got home the house smelled delicious and all I had to focus on was the glass of wine he put in my hand.
I love you sweetie.
If you’re able to barbeque the chicken instead of bake in the oven I highly recommend going that route, as it really dialed up that smokey piri piri flavour. The kids found the chicken a bit on the spicy side but managed to eat it all. I opted to slather on more of the piri piri sauce and combined with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice the combination was perfect. The heat from the chillies complimented the acid from the lemon and tang of the vinegar, while the cilantro brightened everything up nicely. If I were to critique the recipe in any way it would be to suggest adding more vinegar as it got lost a bit with everything else going on in the sauce.
Despite all the drama in the end I’m happy I made this recipe because it’s a keeper, and I’m damn proud of the fact this post got up. Even though it’s February.
Piri Piri Chicken with Crispy Potatoes
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