Cooking Classes


Portuguese Chicken

I am not good at remembering dates but in January of about 1998 I decided I needed to take a budget trip to Portugal.  I searched on line for B&B’s and settled on two.  One was a fabulous old summer home in Lisbon still in the aristocratic family that built it.  The other was a covey of cottages in the countryside in the Algarve.

I am the first to admit that math is not my strong point but how could I get it all backwards with exchange between the Euro and the Canadian dollar, I don't know?  Rather than being cheap, it was actually quite expensive.  

I am so thankful for my mistakes.  Both B&B’s were magical.  In the Algarve I rented a car and did a lot of driving through the countryside and along the coast.  My B&B host told me that there was a good little restaurant in the nearby village.  It was the only restaurant in the quaint village.  I drove up and down every tiny little lane until I found it.

There was no worry about the language.  The only thing on the menu was chicken dinner.  How lovely.  When I saw this recipe in the March 2010 for Portuguese chicken, it took me back to all the fond memories of that trip.

I sat down.  We smiled at each other.  There were only 3 or 4 tables.  They brought me food.  The chicken was cooked in their wood-fuelled oven and served with fries.  Dessert was simply a lovely, sliced orange picked from their own tree.  It was a meal I will never forget.  That was before I had a digital camera, so my pictures are packed away with the rest of my household.

Portuguese Chicken         adapted from Chatelaine magazine March 2010

1 whole chicken, 3 lb
1 lemon
generous pinches of coarse salt
½  c olive oil
½ c white wine
1 t piri piri sauce
3 large cloves of garlic
1 T paprika
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf, crumbled

  1. Using kitchen scissors, cut the backbone from the chicken and discard (or save for stock).  Cut off and discard any excess fat or skin.  Place, skin side up, on a large cutting board.  Using both hands, press down on breastbone until chicken is as flat as possible.  Massage to cover chicken with juice.  Refrigerate at least 1 ½ hours.

  1. When ready to roast, preheat oven to 400f.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Place a rack on the foil, then set chicken, breast side up, on the rack.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk oil with wine, piri piri sauce, paprika, parsley, bay leaf and a pinch of salt.  Brush chicken with oil mixture.  Continue roasting and basting ivery 10 minutes until chicken is cooked and skin is crispy, about 45 minutes.

  1. Slice into pieces and spoon pan juices over top.  Serve with fries or roasted baby potatoes and a green salad.


  1. What a wonderful looking dish, I cooked a portuguese chicken dish too but a Macau version :)

  2. In 1998, digital cameras were low resolution and high price, so of course you didn't have one. It's better to carry great memories like this chicken with you, anyway!

  3. YUM!! and Congrats on your new home!!

  4. 3 hungry tummies - I'll have to check out your recipe. Sounds great.

    Marjie - you are right. The best memories are in the tummy!

    Janine - thanks for stopping by!

  5. Yummy. Portuguese chicken. This dish looks and sounds fantastic.

  6. What a lovely memory to have and enjoy each time you eat this!

  7. Great story and the food.... so delish!

  8. Food is at it's best when it brings back fond memories. I am always amazed at how the simple events can have such a powerful influence on us.

    Your Portuguese Chicken looks wonderful.

  9. Pam - my internet access is so limited and I forget to explain things fully. I added a link for piri piri, but it is a hot chili papper sauce common in Portugal. You can actually make it at home or just substitute another hot sauce.

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