Duncan Welgemoed’s peri peri chicken


Africa is Duncan Welgemoed's muse rather than his master. A very personal vision of the land where he grew up is his inspiration at Africola in Adelaide. A wealth of different cultures and flavours has resulted in a restaurant that weaves together tastes from all over the continent with wine from South Australia's most adventurous vintners and design from Welgemoed's co-conspirator, designer James Brown.

"Peri peri is a dish that my dad and I cooked and ate at least once a week," says Welgemoed. "Coming from Johannesburg and having a Madeiran godfather, it's the first dish I felt I had cultural ties to, that I could talk about with any certainty to any other cook in the world." Finishing the chicken by smoking it with bay branches brings a great perfume to the meat, Welgemoed says. "Use a robust extra-virgin olive oil to dress it at the end with the juice of a lemon. Once the chicken is fully rested, the juices and excess marinade and oil collect in a pool in the serving dish and become the perfect liquor to dip a soft white bread roll into at the beginning or end of the meal." Start this recipe a day ahead to make the peri peri sauce and brine and marinate the chicken.

You'll need

¼ cup applewood smoking chips, soaked in water overnight (see note) Soft floured rolls, or green salad (optional),to serve   Peri peri sauce 15 red birdseye chillies 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil 100 ml red wine vinegar 4 garlic cloves, blanched and coarsely chopped 2 tsp smoked paprika ½ tsp coarsely chopped fresh bay leaf (2-3 leaves)   Brined chicken 160 gm sea salt flakes 55 gm (¼ cup) brown sugar 55 ml cider vinegar 2 garlic heads, cut in half 10 fresh bay leaves 8 thyme sprigs 2 lemons, thickly sliced, plus extra cheeks to serve 1 (1.5kg) chicken, butterflied

Method

  • 01
  • For peri peri sauce, preheat the oven to 180C, place chillies in a roasting pan and roast until lightly coloured and softened (10-12 minutes). Cool, remove stalks, chop, then transfer to a saucepan with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, paprika, bay leaves and 1 tsp sea salt flakes, and simmer over medium heat to infuse (2-3 minutes). Cool, then process in a blender until smooth. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for flavours to meld (1-3 days). Shake well before using.
  • 02
  • For brined chicken, bring ingredients except lemon and chicken to the boil in a large saucepan with 1 litre water, then set aside to cool completely (1½-2 hours). Add lemon and refrigerate to chill (1 hour). Place chicken in a large deep non-reactive container, pour in brine to cover completely, then refrigerate overnight.
  • 03
  • Remove chicken from brine (discard brine) and rinse under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels and place in a bowl. Pour half the peri peri sauce over (reserve remaining to serve), coating chicken evenly, then refrigerate to marinate (6 hours or up to a day).
  • 04
  • Prepare a charcoal or hardwood-fire barbecue until coals are white and ashed (1-1½ hours for hardwood, 30-45 minutes for charcoal; see note). Place chicken on grill, cover with a lid or upturned metal bowl and grill for 15 minutes or so each side, basting with excess marinade, until cooked through, throwing smoking chips onto the embers and closing the lid in the last 5 minutes of cooking (a metal skewer inserted for 20 seconds at the thickest part near the bone should feel hot when placed on your lower lip).
  • 05
  • Serve chicken with reserved peri peri sauce, lemon cheeks and soft floured bread rolls or a green salad.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Additional Notes

If you don’t have access to a wood or coal barbecue, you can use a regular barbecue or large char-grill pan over medium to medium-high heat. Applewood smoking chips are available from barbecue suppliers such as BBQ Aroma (bbqaroma.com.au). Pine needles need to be gathered from a forest. Wear gloves when preparing stinging nettles, and order them ahead from a greengrocer; if they’re unavailable, use a mix of spinach and silverbeet leaves. Broccoli leaves and baby kale are available from select greengrocers.

Drink Suggestion

Rosé or light red made from pinot gris.

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