Fantastic spicy marinade – whack it on anything for a tangy fiery kick!

piri piri

The first time I came accross this was from food vendors selling freshly BBQd piri piri sardines on the beach in Portugal – very tasty!

Its name piri piri – derived from the Swahili for pepper pepper – comes from the name of the chillies used. It’s oft attributed to Portuguese cuisine, but actually comes from Africa. The Portuguese arrived there with chillies from the Americas, which were integrated into the local cuisine, which in turn found favour with Portuguese settlers. (But to call it Portuguese is akin to attributing curries to British cuisine – much loved by Brits though they are!)

I have included chicken in the recipe here, but it’s great with roast pork, veggies and seafood too.

Spatchcock Piri Piri Chicken

spatchcock piri chicken



  • 3-6 birds eye chillies (de-seeded if you want less heat)
  • 1/2 a lemon’s peel
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • (~1/2 roasted peppers (like from the deli) – optional)
  • 1 lemon’s juice (~30 ml)
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. of oregano
  • 2 tsp. of thyme
  • 1 tsp. of paprika
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • 2 tsp. of salt


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 8 sardines (perfect BBQd or grilled for 2-3 minutes on each side)
  • 4 steaks, such as sirloin or rump
  • 1-1.5 kg (2-3 lb) pork loin roasted for 35 minutes per 500 g (1 lb)
  • 1-1.5 kg (2-3 lb) pork shoulder or belly – but slow roast for 3-4 hours, wrapped in foil (or use the instructions from here)


  1. Whack everything for the marinade in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. To spatchcock the chicken:
    1. Turn the bird over, and with a hefty pair of scissors, cut down either side of the backbone.
    2. Turn it back over, then push down firmly on the breast place to flatten it.
    3. Use 2 skewers, inserted diagonally through the breasts and  thighs to secure it in place. (You can watch how to here.)
  3. Cut scores into the thicker parts of the chicken – i.e. the breasts and the thighs, then thoroughly coat in the sauce.
  4. Put aside the chicken to marinate for at least one hour – 4 is better – but preferably overnight in the fridge.
  5. When its read yo to cook either, fire up the BBq and wait for it to the flames to die down, place the chicken on the centre of the barbecue, and cook for 20-35 mins, turning every 4-5 minutes until nicely charred.
    Or, to cook in the oven, heat to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook for 35-40 mins on a baking tray. To char the skin, turn up the heat, grill or BBQ for a further 5-10 mins.
  6. However you cooked the chicken, check that the juices run clear before serving.
  7. Garnish with lemon wedges, and extra chilli sauce if you like it hot.

If you have marinade left over – then it should keep for about a month. (But discard any that has been in contact with the raw meat!) Alternatively, cut it half and half with tomato ketchup – a cheap one from the supermarket will do – for a nice spicey condiment!