Portugal – Partridge Piri Piri

Partridge Piri Piri

Partridge Piri Piri in my grill pan – delicious

It wouldn’t have been a proper Portuguese meal without some kind of piri piri dish but I thought that a whole chicken would be too much for a starter portion. Besides a smaller bird fitted into the grill pan more easily.

Partridge was still in season at time of writing (from September 1st to February 1st) so it seemed a good option – one bird is enough for a starter portion for one person.

Hot Stuff

The name piri piri comes from the Swahili word for pepper. The chilli itself arrived in Africa when the Portuguese colonised Angola and Mozambique. They had originally brought it with them from their colonies in South America, as part of the Columbian Exchange when the Old World was suddenly inundated with amazing new substances from the recently discovered New World.

My version of this classic is inspired by Ana Patuleia Ortins recipe from her book Portuguese Homestyle Cooking – you can check our her other recipes at Portuguesecooking.com:

Piri Piri Marinade

The birds should marinade in the fridge overnight so start the day before. The marinade is easy and you can make it as hot as you like.

  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 2 tbs coriander
  • a few twists of black pepper
  •  ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chilli sauce

For my kid friendly version I substituted the hot chilli sauce for ketchup and around half a cup of pureed roasted red peppers with their skins removed but I kept in the smoked paprika.

I used a pestle and mortar to grind down the garlic, coriander, salt, pepper and paprika into paste before adding my kid friendly “chilli sauce” and mashing that up too. Tip everything into a bowl and then add the oil and vinegar and mix thoroughly.

Spatchcocked Partridge

Spatchcocked Partridge

Spatchcocking A Partridge

It’s actually quite easy to spatchcock a chicken or game bird.

  • Rinse the bird and pat dry.
  • Turn over onto its breast and use poultry scissors to cut along the spine on either side. Remove the backbone and discard – or you could put it in a stock.
  • Press the bird flat – you’ll hear a crunch. Pretty gruesome but it helps get the bird as flat as possible.
  • Run a skewer from the wing diagonally to the opposite leg. Repeat on the other side.
  • Put in a bowl and then cover with the marinade.
  • Leave in the fridge overnight

Grilling Your Partridge

Take the birds out about 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook to bring to room temperature.

  • Get the grill pan on a hot heat until smoking. Open windows and doors to stop the fire alarms going off in your house.
  • While the pan is heating up, take the partridge out of the marinade and drain off most of the liquid. Keep the liquid for basting.
  • Put the partridge into the grill pan and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, flip over for another 2 – 3 minutes then flip over with a 90 degree twist so you get those fancy criss cross grill marks that look pretty swish. Flip over again for a final 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Baste with the marinade throughout.
  • Check the bird is cooked by cutting between the leg and breast and making sure it’s not pink. I put the birds in the oven to finish off.

I then cut the birds in half so everyone had a leg and breast each served with salad. This was widely considered (in our house) the highlight of our Portuguese meal and will undoubtedly make a reappearance in our regular meals. Enjoy.





Filed in: Portugal

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