10:03 AM Derek , 1 Comment
Man has been turning chili peppers into spicy condiments for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Nearly every culture on every continent has found a way to incorporate hot peppers into their diets. The African bird's eye chili or "peri peri" has a particularly robust history. This well traveled pepper is featured in African, South American and European cuisine. Thanks to companies like Nando's, peri peri is also catching on in the United States.
Nando's is a thriving franchise with restaurants all over the world. In the United States, Nando's can be found in and around Washington DC. Nando's specializes in the traditional Portuguese method of using peri peri peppers. After all, it was the Portuguese who were credited with"discovering" the pepper. Nando's combines the peri peri peppers with garlic and lemon juice to create a savory, spicy sauce. The sauce is then used as both a marinade and finishing sauce for chicken grilled over an open flame.
While I haven't been able to visit a Nando's restaurant, I did get the opportunity to sample their peri peri sauce. Nando's sells their thin, orange sauce in 1.4 oz (40 gram) glass bottles. It comes in a variety of heat levels and flavor variations.
I wanted to stay true to the Nando's style of cooking when testing their sauce. However, I received the samples in the midst of a record breaking Michigan winter. My grill was buried under two feet of snow making open flame cooking impossible. As a result, I had to make due with my oven's broiler.
I was cooking four medium-large chicken breasts for my family. The bottle didn't appear to be large enough to both marinade and finish the chicken so I skipped the marinading. I dusted the chicken simply with seasoned salt and pepper and slid it under the searing broiler. Finally, I brushed the sauce on heavily just before the chicken finished cooking.
Since I was cooking for my family, I started with the medium sauce. It's a good thing I did. Nando's medium peri peri sauce packed quite a punch. The sauce was tangy and the garlic was evident. As I mentioned, the burn was more than I anticipated.
The sauce's low sugar content makes it perfect for high heat cooking. The chicken didn't char as it would have with a high sugar (BBQ) sauce. Though it's thin, it still manages to cling to the meat. It also colors the surface nicely.
Though I'm new to Nando's, this wasn't my first experience with peri peri. I really enjoy the unique sizzle provided by this sauce. It's unlike the cayenne / tabasco / jalapeno sauces that are typically featured in North America. Nando's take on the sauce is simple and delicious.
More information about Nando's and the peri peri pepper can found here.