I’ve wanted to make this recipe for a while now! Peri-Peri sauce is one of my favourite sauces in the world but I felt limited because I didn’t have access to African bird’s eye chillies! So here’s my version with Peruvian chillies that are MUCH easier to get and the flavour… WOW. Now I cannot live without this recipe in my fridge constantly (you have been warned).
Peri-Peri originated in Africa and is a sauce that uses roasted veggies and chillies as its base. It’s also really popular in Portugal as they were colonies of the areas in Africa where this sauce originated. Although it’s unclear exactly how, they are believed to also have added value to this recipe in that time. In Portugal, you will see Peri-Peri sauce (also known as Piri-Piri) as more of a chilli-infused oil rather than in this creamy version. The key part of this recipe is the roasting of ingredients. The slight char and golden bits add tons of flavour to the final result. You can use the sauce on its own and also, like me, use it to marinade chicken.
Let’s talk chillies! This recipe is spicy but you can definitely control HOW spicy you want it. Classic Peri-Peri sauce uses Bird’s Eye Chillies from Africa, but many times you won’t be able to get your hands on them (like me). You can certainly use chillies that you have available where you live and prioritize those that have a deeper, smoky-like flavour. No matter what chillies you choose to use, if you clean them up by removing the seeds and veins, they will be a lot less spicy. So you can choose to clean all of them or some of them, depending on how spicy the chillies you chose are as well as your tolerance. If you go for dried chillies, make sure to rehydrate them for 30 minutes in boiling water before using them.
My Spin On It
In this spin on Peri-Peri sauce, I used Peruvian chillies: both yellow Peruvian chillies and Peruvian Panca chillies. For the yellow ones I had whole ones so I roasted them, but you could replace that for yellow chilli paste (available in Latin and online stores in many cities around the world) and skip the roasting for that ingredient. The panca chilli (usually sold dry or in a paste) I added as a paste because I couldn’t get whole ones, so it went straight into the blender. If I had gotten whole ones I would rehydrate them for 30min in boiling water and then add them to the roasting dish. To be honest, I’m living for this Peruvian-African fusion. If you want, you can also visit my Peruvian recipes section.
For the Peri-Peri sauce
- 1 whole red bell pepper canned, liquid drained
- 1 small red onion roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves whole and peeled
- 3 Peruvian yellow chillies** or 4.5 tbsp Peruvian yellow chilli paste
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lime zest only
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 3 tbsp olive oil + more for roasting
- 2 tbsp Peruvian panca chilli**
For the chicken
- 4 chicken breasts
- Vegetable oil for cooking
For the roasted potato wedges
- 400 g small potatoes cut in wedges
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Peri-Peri Sauce
- If you're using whole fresh or frozen Peruvian yellow chillies, clean two of them by cutting off both tips and then in half. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and veins. I left the other one whole for the spicy factor and chopped it in medium pieces. If you were only able to find yellow chilli paste, place it straight into the blender without going into the oven.
- If you're using whole, dried panca chillies, first hydrate them in boiling water for 30 minutes. Then remove the top and bottom and add to the baking tray to go into the oven. If you're using chilli paste, add directly to the blender.
- Place the chillies, onion, garlic cloves and red bell pepper in a roasting dish and mix with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 200°C / 390°F for 20-30min or until very golden and charred in spots.
- Place the roasted ingredients in the blender and include their juices, too. Add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce as well. Blend until smooth and correct the salt level. Your Peri-Peri sauce is now ready to use!
For the Peri-Peri chicken
- Place the chicken breasts on a chopping board and cover with baking paper. Use a rolling pin to gently hit the chicken pieces to make them thinner. This helps to cook the breast more evenly and also helps the marinade add flavour to it.
- Place 2 tablespoons of sauce per breast in a container and cover them thoroughly with the sauce. Close the container and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. You can also use a grill, the taste is amazing! Brush vegetable oil on the skillet and place the chicken on top. Cook until 3/4 of it turns lighter in colour and then flip for an extra 2-3 minutes.
For the roasted potato wedges
- Mix the potatoes with the olive oil, butter, salt and pepper and roast at 180°C / 350°F for 30-45min or until very golden and soft on the inside. Give them a stir halfway through.