Sharon and I had arrived in Porto at night before the start of a wine tour with an American importer of Iberian wines, Tom George of Frontier Wines. We set out in search of Frango one of those deceptively simple dishes which later emerged as one of our fondest memories of prior trips to Portugal. Frango is only Portuguese chicken but what chicken. Each bird is butterflied and then marinated in piri piri pepper sauce then roasted over coals that crisp the chile sauce saturated skin while leaving the meat moist and succulent. It is appropriate that I associate this dish so closely with Portugal because the folk art symbol of Portugal is a chicken and chickens, or more properly, roosters, galos, are everywhere.
But that night we spied the right chicken, a neon bird hanging in front of a brightly lit doorway down a dark back street. Inside the Churrecaria, we found a huge grill covered with sizzling chickens. These signs and the accompanying aromas are one of the most welcoming sights in Portugal. They may be using a rotisserie or a grill, but once inside, you can be guaranteed of flames and great flavor with low prices. Inside is a relative term, some of these joints don’t even have walls, only a roof. Here is our version:
1 Chicken, cut into halves or quarters
1 tbsp Course sea salt
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Hot smoked pimentón
¼ cup Piri piri
¼ cup Olive oil
Put the salt in a mortar and add garlic. Mash together, then grind in pimentón.
Smoosh in the piri piri followed by the olive oil. You should now have a nice paste.
Using a brush, coat chicken on all sides.
Refrigerate for 24 hours then grill or bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour.