Peri Peri chicken is very popular all around the world especially because of the Nandos franchise. I decided to up one and give mine a sweet, tropical aspect by including fresh pineapples to come up with the most amazing pineapple peri peri chicken.
I love pineapple in this recipe, not only for the sweet notes that it imparts but also for its bromelain enzyme that helps in tenderizing the chicken. And, for this reason I marinated the chicken for forty five minutes only. You could push it for an hour but just remember that the longer you marinate it the higher the risk of ending up with very mushy chicken meat.Living in Kenya, which is on the equator, means that I have access to fresh produce all year round. This applies to the pineapple, so, if for some reason you can only find the canned ones drain out the juice before using.
I used three birds eye chillies to impart the much desired spiciness. I could have easily made it more spicy but since my children will not enjoy it I stuck to just three, feel free to add as much as your heart desires. If you don’t have access to bird’s eye chilli then, use any chillie of your choice. The birds eye chillies that I used for this recipe were bought from Zucchini in Westlands.
Lime is a staple of mine when it comes to peri peri chicken but for some reason, on this particular day, I couldn’t find even a single one, not even the driest, tired ones that signify expiring stocks! So I went with lemon, rind plus juice.
I used red wine vinegar in making the peri peri sauce. If you do not have any at hand then you can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
For the peri peri sauce, fresh herbs of oregano, thyme and basil are just the best, no debate. But, do not despair if you do not have any at hand, use the dried herbs. If you do decide to use the fresh herbs, but have no idea where to find them, try Tuskys supermarkets. I saw some while browsing through their fresh produce section along Kenyatta Avenue the other day.
For the best bargain, I would advise you to go to Marigiti market. A bunch of fresh herbs, regardless of type, goes for Ksh. 10/-. I had such a field day buying them. If you go to the supermarkets a bunch goes for a minimum of Ksh. 20/-. There is a time I bought a bunch of basil leave from Carre Four in Karen for Ksh. 60/-, 😡 although to be fair when I went back recently I found a bunch going for Ksh. 20/-. I guess the supply must have been tight for it to sell at ksh. 60/-.
I love having a thick sauce that holds on to the chicken also, I don’t blend it to the point of being too smooth. Bits of unbroken ingredients is good enough for me.
So how do I ensure that the marinade penetrates deep into the chicken? Simple, I use a 1 X Meat Tenderizer with 24 Spikes to Tenderize and poke numerous holes into the chicken. You could of course use a fork because it will work equally as well, only that it will take much longer.
The ultimate – well, at least in my opinion – way of cooking this pineapple peri peri chicken is by grilling it over charcoal. The smokey flavour infused into the chicken compares to none.
On this day I was not feeling like going through the process of lighting up my charcoal jiko so I did the next best thing. Lit two pieces of charcoal over my gas stove top, put them in a metallic bowl which, I then placed the bowl that had the marinating chicken. Then, I poured some oil over the lit charcoal and immediately covered everything up with my chapati rolling board to prevent the smoke from escaping. I left it to infuse with the smoke for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, I set my oven at 180C and baked the chicken for an hour. However, in between I did the following.
- Turned the chicken pieces over at the thirty minute mark to ensure even cooking and baked for fifteen more minutes.
- Drained all the chicken juices out of the baking dish (at the thirty minute mark) to ensure that the chicken dried out faster.
- Turned chicken over for the skin side to face up, applied some peri peri sauce over it and baked for five minutes. I repeated the process two more times.
The results were a perfectly caramelized, tender, juicy and amazingly smoked chicken.
Enjoy this step by step video of Peri Peri Pineapple Chicken;
This peri peri and pineapple chicken combines the spicy tanginess of the peri peri sauce with the tropical sweetness of pineapples to yield a mind blowingly complex sauce that is sticky and caramelizes beautifully. The peri peri sauce is very versatile and can also be used to marinade skewers of beef, vegetables, shrimp, etc, or served just as is as a dipping sauce.
- 3 Birds eye chillies
- 1 Medium sized Hoho - Red bell pepper
- 1 Cup fresh pineapple chunks
- 5 Cloves of garlic
- 1/2 Cup Sunflower oil - or any oil of your choice
- 1/4 Cup Red wine vinegar - You could use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp Fresh oregano - you can also use dry oregano
- 1 tsp fresh thyme - you can use dry thyme
- Handful of fresh basil leaves - you can use dry basil
- Salt to taste
- 1 Medium sized red onion - quartered
- 1 tsp lemon rind
- Juice of one lemon - freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 Full Chicken - quartered
Blend all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender until thick.
Use a meat tenderizer or fork to poke holes all over the chicken quarters.
Pour just enough of the peri peri sauce to cover the chicken and massage it into the holes created by tenderizer. Work it under the skin as well.
Place a metallic bowl on the chicken and then put two pieces of lit charcoal in it. Pour oil over the charcoal and cover immediately to trap the smoke using a wooden chapati rolling board.
Leave chicken to marinate and infuse with smoke for forty five minutes.
Set oven at 180C and bake for an hour. Turn over after thirty minutes for the second side to cook.
Turn chicken pieces for the skin side to face up and then apply peri peri sauce and bake for five minutes.
Repeat process of applying peri peri sauce two more times.
Serve with starch of your choice and extra peri peri sauce on the side.
Peri peri sauce can keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.