Portuguese Perfection: Piri Piri Roast Chicken

Portuguese Perfection:  Piri Piri Roast Chicken

It’s Sunday. Let’s roast.


But first, a little bit about me on this fine day.

Growing up, I was admittedly a goody-two shoes. Much in the same manner as Hermione Granger (though, minus the know-it-all-attitude), frizzy hair and all, I was the straight A student. The quiet, teacher’s pet. The well-behaved. The rule follower. Never the rule breaker.

It was unfathomable to me to not get an A on a test. An A or an A+. An A- happened maybe once in a while. That is, until I hit grade 5, and I met the explorers.

You know the explorers. Ferdinand. Magellan. Columbus. Vasco de Gama. That test, I failed. Twice. So many people did poorly on it the first go that our teacher let those of us who failed (those of us included me) take it again. It was such a traumatic experience that my scores were burned into my head. Sixty-five percent on test #1 and a mild improvement of a seventy-seven on test #2. Still, that’s no A. Far from it. A lesson in humility.


In prepping for this recipe, those pre-pubescent Social Studies failures came crashing back as I read about the Portuguese colonization of Brazil in the 1500s (by Pedro Álvares Cabral, in case you were wondering). The Portuguese spread their wings far and wide, and along the way collected flavors from one place and dropped them in another. For example and for today’s purposes, piri piri sauce. Piri piri sauce, which is somewhat ubiquitous in Portuguese cuisine, gets its name from the piri piri chili pepper that originated in Mozambique and Angola, both Portuguese colonies. Eventually these flavors made their way to Brazil…and today, they hit my plate.

I can’t say this is a truly authentic piri piri sauce, but rather I combined the notable flavors from which it’s comprised- chili, citrus, paprika and oregano- with the flavors of my go-to-OMG-this-chicken recipe to dress up my Sunday roast. You know I like to improvise. Improvisation aside, the result was magnificent, and OMG-this-chicken-II, if you will, was born.

I served it with some roasted potatoes and a side of a broccoli-casserole-baked-thing that I had to make because I impulse bought some truffle smoked gouda at the grocery story because I lack self-control, and I needed a sensible and healthy way to eat the aforementioned cheese. It was very good, too. Improvisation suits me, apparently.

If you want to read a little more on how the Portuguese influenced the culinary landscape of the entire world, check this.

Also, I apologize for the lack of sexy pictures. It’s really hard to capture the mouth-watering essence of a roast chicken without having it look like it’s birthing an orange peel. I tried, a lot.

And if you want to see me before I became an insufferable know-it-all, here’s me and Little Buddha, a shout out for National Siblings’ Day. He was the one that broke the rules.


Piri Piri Roast Chicken
Serves 6
Spicy, Portuguese flavored roast chicken
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Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
  1. 1 tsp fennel seeds
  2. 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  3. 1 TB dried marjoram
  4. 1 TB dried thyme
  5. 1 TB coarse sea salt
  6. ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  7. 2 tsp hot chili powder
  8. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  9. 1 tsp oregano
  10. 1 orange, quartered and zested
  11. 3 TB olive oil
  12. 1 3½–4 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  13. 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix all the spice and the orange zest in a mortar and crush with a pestle until you get a relatively homogenous looking mix Add the olive oil.
  3. Rub chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Stuff chicken with the orange and garlic. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and place on a roasting rack.
  4. Place the chicken in the oven and roast until the skin is browned and meat is extremely tender, about 1 ¼- 1 ½ hrs (depending on the size of your chicken). Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving.
  5. Serve with side items of choice
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World http://thehungarybuddha.com/


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