Peri Peri SPICY Grilled Chicken


By Troy Johnson


  • 4 to 10 Peri Peri (African Bird) chiles, stemmed (Arbol or Guajillo or similar hot peppers can also work). (The Spice Boat next door to Fresh Harvest has dried Bird Peppers which can be reconstituted for this recipe. They are very hot!)
  • 3 tablespoons Fresh Harvest extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves, crushed
  • 6 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, trimmed
  • ½ cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped fine
  • 1 (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum pan (if using charcoal) or 2 (9-inch) disposable aluminum pie plates (if using gas)
  • Lemon wedges


1. Process 4 chili peppers, oil, salt, garlic, tomato paste, shallot, sugar, paprika, five-spice powder, lemon zest and juice, pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves in blender until smooth, 10 to 20 seconds. Taste paste and add up to 6 additional chili peppers, depending on desired level of heat (spice paste should be slightly hotter than desired heat level of cooked chicken), and process until smooth. Using metal skewer, poke skin side of each chicken piece 8 to 10 times. Place chicken pieces, peanuts, and spice paste in large bowl or container and toss until chicken is evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

2A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway and place disposable pan filled with 3 cups water on 1 side of grill. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over other half of grill (opposite disposable pan). Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

2B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Place 2 disposable pie plates, each filled with 1 1/2 cups water, directly on 1 burner of gas grill (opposite primary burner). Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature between 325 and 350 degrees.)

3. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side down, on hotter side of grill and cook until browned and blistered in spots, 2 to 5 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until second side is browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Move chicken to cooler side of grill and arrange, skin side up, with legs and thighs closest to fire and breasts farthest away. Cover (positioning lid vent over chicken if using charcoal) and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and legs and thighs register 175 degrees, 50 to 60 minutes.

4. Transfer chicken to serving platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving, passing lemon wedges separately.

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