Why do you put the chicken feet first into the blender?

Friday, 15 October 1999

So there I was, thinking about hopping down the road to Nando’s to pick up a peri peri spatchcock chicken when the blender madness overtook me.

Blender madness is fun. One simply keeps tossing ingredients into a blender until it tastes right. So it was with my recipe for peri peri chicken which will take you all of ten minutes to prepare.

Take a huge heaped tablespoon of peri peri powder and toss into a blender with a cup of white vinegar and a huge heaped tablespoon of coarse salt. Allow to stand for about five minutes, then add one huge heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic and a large onion (sliced, diced, cubed, or grated so that it’s small enough to not clog up the works).

Hold the blender lid down with one hand, and hit the high speed button with the other. When the mix appears to be smooth, switch off the blender and add a can of whole peeled tomatoes (juice and all). Blend on low speed until smooth. Add a quarter cup of vegetable oil. Blend again on low speed until smooth.

Now, pick up that chicken, butterfly it, and score all over with a sharp knife. Toss the entire chicken into a large bowl. Pour the marinade over and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Then braai over medium-hot coals until done.

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Now, Mrs Jones, here are some hints to make this even easier:

  • The best sort of peri peri to use for this recipe is Robertsons. Get the refill pack — those delicate shaker bottles are not conducive to measuring out huge heaped tablespoons And do be careful to rinse your hands before taking them near your eyes afterwards.
  • Maize oil is nicer than sunflower oil is nicer than soya oil. Do not use olive oil — the taste is too contrasty for this recipe.
  • You should use a basting brush for the marinade. The Crazy Store usually has them for under R10. At that price, you can get one for every variety of marinade.
  • If you can’t find “coarse salt”, ask for “Kosher salt”. What? You remember that from a previous recipe? Excellent! Have another glass of wine.
  • Use Italian whole peeled tomatoes instead of the local variety. Yes, I’m patriotic, but our local canners add citric acid and other sorts of superfluous junk, besides, the Italian variety is nearly always cheaper.
  • If your blender cannot hold all the ingredients at once, you have what we manly chefs refer to as a blender for wimps. Not to worry. When you find it getting too full, do split loads and mix in a large bowl.
  • Chicken burns easily, so watch it carefully. Every five minutes, turn the bird over and brush with marinade.

The French chefs will tell you that the way to butterfly a chicken is to cut along either side of the spine, then throw the back into a stock pot. I’m too lazy for that, choosing instead to cut straight down between the breasts with kitchen scissors. Either way is fine.

It reminds me of the story of the chicken who proudly told his mom, ”I am destined to be a member of the clergy! I heard the farmer saying that I would become a fine friar!” But I digress…

Serve with Portuguese rolls and salad. And wait for the accolades.