The Last(ing) Bird: Chicken Piri-Piri

Music Pairing: Missourians, Prohibition Blues

Story

We chose this recipe as a bitter-sweet final chord on our tasty musical journey together. Saturdays are our date nights, ever since our youngest was about two months old.  We have done all we can to architect our lives in such a manner as to support this sacred time.  One of the things we love to do is enjoy a quiet drink together, while exploring different flavors, settings and sounds.  A favorite stop is a local speakeasy, called The Last Word.  This is an unmarked joint, paying tribute to the prohibition era, in most ways of décor and spirit.  We both love frequenting the place, enjoying the cocktails and learning from the virtuosic bartenders, catching up on life, dreaming up big dreams of life, reminiscing, you name it.  One night amid COVID-19, unable to be there in present, we imagined descending down to the unmarked wooden door and standing outside just before 5 pm to be the first line, as is customary.  We attempted to replicate all elements of the date night, from attire to the spirits and the food itself.  As such, Afa showed up in her flapper outfit, complete with the pearls and shoes and Aaron was waiting in our indoor atrium, as he might, by the beloved bar.  One of the items on the menu is Aaron’s favorite, Chicken Piri-Piri.  Since blending cultures is a natural move for us, understanding the migration of flavors here was fascinating and enjoyable.  The dish is popularized in Portuguese cuisine, but originates in Mozambique.  This version is certainly our untraditional take on the dish. Combine the spices of sharp peppers, onions and garlic with the comfort of short grain rice and you have a beautiful combination rendered through The Last(ing) Bird, because the flavor will endure much beyond the first bite.  We enjoyed ours with a version of Portuguese rice, but this will work well with some Aglio Olio, layered basmati rice, a simple risotto, and so forth.  Put on some Prohibition Blues, pour yourself a glass of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a leaf of mint, get into the spirit of cooking and enjoy your Saturday night with us.  Until we meet again, may we all eat well, laugh much, cook together and pair music and food thoughtfully!

Recipe

For the Piri-piri marinate

  • 1/3 of Jolokia or Habanero pepper (unless you can locate Piri-piri pepper)
  • 1/2 t brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T softened butter
  • 10 walnuts
  • ¼ C chopped white onion
  • ½ t salt (optional)
  • ¼ chopped cilantro

For the chicken

  • 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (previously boiled for 1 hr+ in salt/pepper/bay leaf/2 t cumin)

DIRECTIONS:

Piri-piri paste

  1. Combine all of the wet ingredients into the food processor and give it a pulse for about 20 seconds
  2. Add all dry ingredients and blend into a paste
  3. Set aside

The Bird:

  1. Boil the chicken as desired (see our suggested spices above) for 1-1.5 hours, until fully tendered but not completely shredded/falling apart.  Set aside for a moment to cool
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 F
  3. Cut the chicken into cubes, about 3 centimeters in size
  4. Generously coat with the marinade
  5. Give it a spray with olive oil and place on bake for 10 minutes
  6. Serve with a side of favorite starch

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