Before I met my husband and before I moved to Malaysia, I was completely unaware of what “Nando’s” chicken was. He explained to me that it was a spicy Portugese chicken joint popular in the UK. Chicken? Spicy? YES, PLEASE!
As much as I like Nando’s and their spicy chicken, I have to say that I was a little disappointed when I found out that nothing was fried. It’s not that I don’t like roast or rotisserie chicken, it’s just that I never had any great experiences with that method of cooking chicken. Too often many people often overcook poultry to the point where it is squeaky (dry and stringy). It was only after I started brining all things poultry and cooking with darker pieces of meat such as thighs was when I really started to appreciate the succulent art form that is roast chicken.
And there is another secret of course, BRINE!! Not only does it keep everything juicy and tender but it also adds SO MUCH flavor to the meat especially when it’s as spicy as this one. You can use mild hot sauce, you can do what I do and go extra hot or just roast it naked with a little bit of smoked paprika dusted on top. The choice is yours but for the love of all that is spicy chicken, DON’T FORGET TO BRINE!
a bottle of your favorite piri piri sauce or similar hot sauce
100g (about 1/2 cup) salt
100g (about 1/2 cup) sugar
1 tbsp peppercorn
1 lemon (zest grated and juiced)
1 head of garlic (garlic cloves crushed)
3-4 bay leaves
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
2.5 L (8 1/2 cups) water
Brine the chicken overnight.
Preheat oven to 220C/425F.
Take chicken out of brine and pat dry, removing any brine debris that still may be sticking to the chicken.
Place on an oven tray and coat in your favorite piri piri sauce or whichever hot sauce you prefer.
Bake in the oven at 220C/45F uncovered for 45 min-60 min or until thoroughly cooked, making sure to baste with fresh hot sauce as you go.
Grate the zest of one lemon and add it to a large pot along with the juice.
Add salt, sugar, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, thyme and 1 L of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Boil for 10 minutes, making sure sure the brine mixture does not boil over onto the stovetop.
After 10 min, remove from heat and let cool.
Once room temperature, add the remaining 1.5 liters of water. The mixture should taste like a salty soup. If you find it to be too salty, add a mug or two of water but not much more as you don't want to dilute the brine too much.
Add poultry to room temperature brine and let soak overnight or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
When ready to cook, remove poultry from brine, pat dry and remove any herbs that might remain on the meat.
Discard brine once poultry has touched it and do not reuse.