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What’s cooking today: Peri-peri chicken sosaties

What’s cooking today: Peri-peri chicken sosaties
Tony Jackman’s peri-peri chicken skewers. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

It’s easy to grab a jar of Nando’s from the shelf, but it’s deeply satisfying to run up your own peri-peri marinade or sauce. Which, in a way, is much the same thing. Here, then, is your TGIFood Editor’s own version, and there’s roasting involved…

There are probably as many variations on peri-peri sauce as there are people who have ever made it. The general consensus is that it should contain chillies, garlic and lemon juice, with frequent inclusions being white wine, onion and red peppers. A smaller school of thought favours adding a hint of cumin too, though I haven’t often seen this.

Quite how many chillies to use, well, that’s really up to you and your palate. But try to strike a balance of flavours: you want to taste the garlic, so if you have a lot of chilli in it, use plenty of garlic too. The rest of the ingredients really just carry those essential core flavours, though the lemon and wine definitely add something.

To bring out as much of every flavour component as possible, roast the core ingredients first.

(Makes 8 skewers)

Ingredients

For the peri-peri marinade/sauce:

2 red peppers, cored, seeds removed

10 small red chillies, seeds removed, then chopped finely

1 red onion, whole

1 head of garlic, whole

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

Salt

Black pepper

For the skewers:

8 large chicken breasts fillets

1 quantity peri-peri sauce

The remainder of the peri-peri marinade plus:

1 glass dry white wine

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 200.

Remove the cores from the peppers and get rid of the seeds inside. Do the same with the chillies. Remove the papery outer layer of the onion.

Pour the olive oil into a roasting pan and add the red peppers, chillies, red onion and the whole head of garlic. Season with salt and pepper and put it in the oven for about half an hour, or up to 40 minutes.

Put the roasted peppers into a medium saucepan. Chop the chillies and add them. Roughly chop the cooked onion and add it. Squeeze the pulp out of the garlic cloves, into the pot. Don’t waste the olive oil and bits of roasted flavour in the roasting pan: scrape it all into the pot too.

Blitz the contents with a handheld blender (or in a food processor).

To what is now a blended pulp, add the juice and zest of 2 lemons, the paprika, a glass of dry white wine, salt and black pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, and cook gently for five minutes.

Leave to cool.

Pour half of the marinade (or sauce, it’s the same thing in this instance) into a bowl, cover with cling film or a lid, and refrigerate until needed.

Put all of the chicken breasts into a container, add the other half of the marinade, toss well to coat, and refrigerate, covered, for six hours or, if you prefer, overnight. 

When you’re ready to braai the skewers, remove the marinated breasts from the fridge, as well as the extra container or marinade, and bring them to room temperature.

To prepare the skewers, cut each marinated chicken breast into four pieces, first across one way, then the other. Thread them onto skewers.

Cook them close to very hot coals, turning every half minute or so, and basting them every two minutes with the remaining sauce. Be sure to leave enough marinade for one finally basting just as you take them off the grid to serve them. This gives them a nice coating and a hit of peri-peri when eating them.

Don’t overcook them. When they seem done, which won’t take long because the pieces of fillet are not very thick and there’s no bone or skin to slow down the cooking, take them off the fire and give them that final basting.

Serve with a crisp and soothing salad. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

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