What is piri piri? Besides meaning “pepper pepper” in Swahili, it is a very hot sauce made with peppers, vinegar and oil. As a heat-obsessed person, I needed to add this sandwich to my repertoire. After eating this sandwich, I can honestly say I have found my new favorite chicken marinade and will be making it on a regular basis. The only thing I MIGHT change is MAYBE not making it on a hundred degree day, maybe… The spiciness from the chilies and the heat from the grill combined with the outside temperature left me sweating out piri piri for the next few hours! That being said, there are worse things than smelling like piri piri! So here is the recipe and I hope you enjoy as much as I do…
You will need (this recipe serves 4):
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded until they are 1 inch or thinner
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup homemade aioli (recipe below)
- 4 rolls, burger buns or bread of choice
- 2 handfuls arugula and some slivered red onion (tossed lightly with olive oil and a dash of vinegar right before eating)
- 6-15 small red arbol chilies (you can use fresh or dried chilies, I always stick with dried)
- 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt & pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar.
- Take the stems of the chilies off. Place the chilies on a skillet and dry toast for a few minutes until fragrant.
- After a couple minutes, take the chilies out of the pan and coarsely chop. Then put the chilies in a small saucepan with the garlic, oregano, paprika, olive oil, red wine vinegar and a good pinch of salt & pepper.
- Simmer the sauce for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cool, you can puree the sauce or leave it chunky. I like to puree it because it intensifies the flavor. Reserve 1-2 teaspoons of the sauce to add to the homemade aioli (recipe is below).
- Pound the chicken within an inch of its life and place in a zip-top bag. Pour in the cooled piri piri sauce and squish around until all the chicken is coated. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
While the chicken is marinating, let’s make the aioli…
In your food processor, crack 1 egg. Add the juice of 1 lemon, a small splash of balsamic or rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pulse to combine.
Set the food processor on low speed and slowly drizzle in canola oil until slightly thick. You can add as much or as little oil as you want, just taste along the way until you achieve your desired consistency. I usually add about 1/3-½ cup canola oil.
At the very end, add in the reserved couple teaspoons of the piri piri sauce. Pulse to combine one more time. Refrigerate the aioli until you’re ready to eat.
Time to cook!
- Set up your grill for hot and direct heat. Take the chicken out of the marinade and scrape off the excess. Throw the chicken on the grill and let cook for 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness. If it needs longer to cook, move it to a cooler part of the grill.
- Drizzle some olive oil on your sandwich bread and put on the grill for a couple minutes to get those oh-so-appealing grill marks.
- When the bread is done, spread some aioli on top and bottom pieces, slice the chicken thinly and pile it on. Add the arugula (tossed lightly in olive oil and a splash of vinegar) and put on the bread top.
This sandwich is best devoured alongside a very cold beer…especially if you decide to make it on a boiling hot day…