Grilled Chicken

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Savoring Spain and Portugal

Serves 4



  • 2 cups (16fl oz/500 ml) olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon red pepperflakes 
  • ½ cup (4fl oz/125 ml)fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 broiler chicken halves, about 1 lb (500 g) each 
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Grilled Chicken on a Spit

Click image to enlarge



To make the quick piri-piri marinade, in a saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it is very hot but not boiling. Drop in a red pepper flake. If it skips to the surface of the oil and bubbles but doesn't turn brown or black, add all of the pepper flakes. If the oil is too hot, the flakes will burn and you will have to start all over, as you don't want the oil to taste bitter. If the oil is not hot enough, the pepper flake will sink but not bubble. Keep heating and testing with a few random flakes. They should sizzle and bubble and stay on the surface of the oil for a few minutes. Then the action will subside and the oil will become a pale orange. Remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice and garlic, then let the marinade cool completely. Pour off 6 tablespoons (3 fl oz/90 ml) and reserve for basting.

If using poussins or Cornish hens, first butterfly them: Rinse the birds. Insert a sharp knife through the cavity of a bird and split the bird down the back.

Place the birds in a shallow container and pour the cooled marinade over The next day, prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Bring the birds to room temperature.

To make the basting sauce, in a small frying pan, melt the butter. Add the reserved piri-piri marinade and the minced garlic and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Season with salt and black pepper.

Remove the birds from the marinade and sprinkle them with salt and black pepper. Place on the grill rack, skin side up, and grill, basting with the piri-piri-butter mixture, 5-6 minutes. Turn and cook, continuing to baste, until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, about 5 minutes longer. The timing will depend upon the intensity of the fire.

Transfer to a warmed platter and serve.


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