09 June 2011

Double Take: Sortachef's Peri Peri Chicken

Give me a whole chicken, and I’ll make your taste buds happy. The first time I roasted a chicken was frightening success. Frightening because my oven did not work at the time. It took many more months for me to discover that my oven cooked hot because the heating element never turned off. Once I figured that out, cooking in it was a breeze: leave the oven on for ten minutes, then turn it off for ten minutes. And so on and so forth until the item in the oven was fully cooked. I’m still in shock that I cooked this way for the better half of a year. But I must say, this method worked perfectly for roasting a chicken.

Why do I love roasted chicken? The outside gets crispy, the inside stays moist, giving you that perfect fried-chicken quality without the extra fat. And mess from the popping grease. And standing over the stove. Basically, it’s just darn easy. Set the oven to 400°F. Slice up some onions and potatoes, throw them in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and whatever else you’re in the mood for. Rub your favorite seasonings under the skin of the bird (add some butter too if you are feeling adventurous), put the bird on top of the onions and potatoes. Place the pan in the oven. Walk away. Come back 50 minutes later, throw some green beans in the pan. Walk away. Ten minutes later you have a perfect meal, full of flavor with very little effort. (I do break down my bird so it cooks faster. Never broken down a bird before? Check out this video. I do leave my breast meat on the bone, but that’s the only thing I do differently. Oh, and the fried chicken recipe that goes with the video? Top notch!)

After you eat the chicken, you realize there is a goo at the bottom of the pan. It’s sticky and gives a marvelous flavor to the onions and potatoes. Oh, that goo is the reason I continue to go through the effort of breaking down a bird for roast chicken (Those of you who have access to whole, cut-up birds… lucky you. I’ll be joining your ranks one day, but for now I have to break it down myself.). So when I read through the recipe for Peri Peri Chicken, I was quite excited that I’d be roasting a chicken. The seasonings sounded wonderful (chili, chili, and more chili!), though I was a bit nervous about the lemons. You see, Bender is not a huge lemon fan. Me? I’m a moderate lemon fan.

Chicken ready to marinate. 
recipe from Sortachef

1 5-pound roasting chicken, cut in half, breast cartilage removed
½ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons paprika
½ – 1 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder, depending on heat preference
2 lemons cut into 8 pieces
¼ cup canola or peanut oil
2 teaspoons American chili powder, divided (I used ancho b/c that’s what I had on hand)
6 dried Costena Amarillo or Caterina chile pods (optional) (I pulled out chipotles to add to the chicken, but then completely forgot)

Marinate the chicken: 
Put the chicken halves in a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Pour on the vinegar and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, salt, garlic, paprika, and New Mexico chili powder. Tuck lemons into the chicken (I took this to mean between the pieces of chicken), pour on the oil and top with 1 teaspoon of the American chili powder. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate overnight or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator (Um, I might have only marinated for 2 hours). Turn the chicken at least once during this time.

First bake: 
Put the chicken halves skinside up in a lasagna pan, cover with the marinade and squeeze the lemons over them. Tuck the lemon pieces into the open areas of the pan and bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour, basting with the juices every 20 minutes. (I didn’t baste, but I did flip the chicken at 30 minutes)

Finish the chicken: (to see additional ways to finish the chicken, check out the original recipe)
Raise oven temperature to 425°. Remove all but 1 cup of the marinade from the pan, sprinkle the chicken with a teaspoon of chili powder and nestle in the dried chiles if desired for a little more heat. Bake for 25 minutes, until the skin is medium brown.

The chicken was fine. Mostly crispy on the outside, definitely moist on the inside. The Dude was over for dinner that night, and all three of us found the chicken a bit too lemony for our tastes. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken got eaten, but it just wasn’t our favorite ever.

The whole time I was eating it though, I was coming up with ways to make it suite our tastes a bit better.
  1. Leave out the vinegar completely.
  2. Mix all spices together, creating a rub.  
  3. Lightly oil the chicken, then add rub, making sure to season under the skin, too. Add lemons if desired.
  4. Let sit uncovered in the fridge 1-3 hours, depending on how much time you have.
  5. Bake according to the recipe.
While this recipe was not a flop, it just wasn’t what we wanted. I’m sure my methods would turn this chicken from Peri Peri Chicken into Mel’s Spicy Rub Roasted Chicken, but I’m cool with that. I think I was most disappointed in the recipe when I tried the “goo” at the bottom of the pan. Firstly, it wasn’t gooey. Secondly, it was not silky and succulent. It was thin and tangy. Just a lightly seasoned vinegar. Boo!

It-wasn’t-bad-but-please-don’t-make-it-again: 2 votes.
I’ll-be-back-with-Mel’s-Spicy-Rub-Roasted-Chicken: 1 vote.

Want to see how Tabitha's taste buds reacted to Peri Peri Chicken? Check out Double the Garlic!

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the shorter marination time caused the lemon and vinegar to be more acidic? Ours really wasn't acidic at all but it was marinated 10 x longer. It makes me think that perhaps the acids didn't have enough time to react with the bases around them. Chemically speaking, reactions are sped along using heat. I wonder if you had marinated at low heat (say 200 F) for the same short time if the reaction of acids and bases would've sped along and decreased the overall tartness?

    I didn't taste the "goo" at the bottom so I can't compare there.


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