Grilled Chili Basted Chicken (Frango Piri Piri)

Serves 2 to 4

Variations of this dish abound, from the simple basting of hot sauce while grilling to the addition of other seasoning including whiskey and a mayonnaise type coating. Mine is a simple one that I have made for years. I hope you like it. You can use small fryer chickens but I find cornish hens are really tasty for this dish. the sweet paprika is a counterpoint to the hot chili. Cornish hens are usually small enough to have one per person. Usually one fryer is large enough for two to three people.

1 tablespoon coarse kosher or sea salt
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley

1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil as needed
1/4 cup hot chili sauce (malequeta moida) or 1/2 cup bottled hot sauce

4  Cornish hens or two small fryer chickens split in half (see headnote)

1. Toss the salt into a mortar and using the pestle crush the garlic into the salt forming a paste. Grind in the paprika, follow by the cilantro or parsley and the ground pepper.
Mix in the wine vinegar. Drizzle in enough olive oil to make a mushy spreadable paste. Stir in the hot sauce of your choice.

2. Cut the cornish hens from the stem to stern, down the belly to open them up.  Turn them over and cut along the back bone so that you cut each chicken in half.  You also can just leave them butterflied. Place them in a non-reactive pan. Coat them with the garlic seasoning sauce and turn to evenly season them. Cover the dish and chill over night turning occasionally and at least once before retiring for the night.

3. Bring them to room temperature about 1/2 hour before cooking. Drain and reserve the marinade, you will need it for basting.

4. Place skin side up on the hot grill, basting and grilling for about 15 minutes. Turn the birds over, skin side down, and continue to grill for another 15 minutes. Stop basting about 2 minutes before the birds are done so that any raw marinade applied will have time to cook.  If using a thermometer, the internal Temperature of the thick part of the thigh should be 165 degrees F. In any event, when cooking chicken,  the juices should be clear. Serve with a bottle of hot sauce on the side for extra dousing and with Sauteed Broccoli Rabe or turnip greens and fried potatoes.

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