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Peri-Peri Picante Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Peri-Peri PIcanteI’ve had a penchant lately for anything peri-peri picante. Perhaps it was my friend enthusing about the delicioso food she ate in Portugal. Or maybe my daily dose of DuoLingo Spanish (porque espero visitar España en mis vacaciones) has piqued my interest in food that is muy picante.

Whatever the reason, this month I have chosen to share a recipe for Peri Peri Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens. Not only does the spicy heat appeal to me in winter, this dish exemplifies what I love about all my favourite recipes. Namely:

  • it’s a one-pan, all-in-one dish (no need to make anything on the side and less to clean up),
  • using a pre-made spice blend gives maximum flavour for minimum fuss,
  • it’s flexible (swap the chicken for fish/shellfish, or use only chickpeas to make it vegetarian/vegan),
  • you can easily alter the flavour profile (use a Cajun, Moroccan, Mexican, Indian or Italian spice blend in place of peri-peri, for example),
  • it’s quick enough for a workaday dinner but also interesting enough for company,
  • it includes legumes which have a whole host of health benefits (more on that in this post) and
  • it makes great leftovers for lunch (or even breakfast)!

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for Peri Peri Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens. For those keen to make their own Peri-Peri spice blend, I have included a recipe for that as well. Or you can simply procure some (suggestions below).  And I invite you to read on, too, if right now you are thinking “What the heck is Peri-Peri?

What the heck is Peri-Peri?

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Peri Peri DriedI say Peri-Peri, you say Piri-Piri, others say Pili-Pili. It is all the same and refers to the African Bird’s Eye chili. The picture above shows fresh chilis and the ones on the left have been dried. You may not have heard of Peri-Peri but you probably have heard of Nando’s. And this chili is the key ingredient in their sauces.

Peri-peri derives from Swahili and means pepper-pepper. It is thought that when Portuguese explorers came across the pepper in Mozambique in the 15th-century and made it into a marinade/condiment (adding ingredients such as red wine vinegar, garlic and paprika), it became known as piri-piri.

Peri-Peri Purveyors

I have included a recipe for a Peri-Peri seasoning you can make at home. It calls for cayenne and dried chili flakes to impart the heat as these are easy to find in the grocery store. However, if you wish to be as authentic as possible, you could get your hands on some bird’s eye chilis at The Spice Trader or even on Amazon.

If you wish to buy a spice blend, it will be easy to pick up a jar of President’s Choice Black Label Peri Peri (photo at right). Also, Chef David (local to Toronto) makes a Peri Peri Seasoning that is salt-, gluten- and GMO-free and available at a number of Toronto stores. There are also quite a few sauces out there, one of my favourites of which, Wildly Delicious Peri Peri, is made here in Toronto.

Peri-Peri spicing and chicken is a classic pairing, but don’t stop there. I’ve used it with eggs, shrimp, pork, beef and vegetables whenever my palate is partial to something picante. As in recipe notes for Peri Peri Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens, be sure to squeeze some fresh lemon over the finished dish. Espero que te gusta!

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