Peri peri sauce

Food & drink
Peri peri, or piri piri sauce

What are friends for, eh?

Well, sometimes, they’re useful for helpfully pointing out that your lovingly crafted peri peri sauce looks like a medical sample, suggesting that you might want to get that checked out at the special clinic, and then bombarding you with inappropriate You Tube clips, including the Manic Street Preacher’s Slash and Burn.

Be assured, this is not a very, very alarming medical emergency.

This is a bottle of peri peri (or piri piri – it seems not to matter) sauce. Incidentally, the bottle came from the local uber-trendy homeware shop, and whilst I concede that it does look like it might be at home in a laboratory, it’s an excellent vessel for storing dressings, sauces, etc, in an oh-so-hip way. I’m not bitter about the whole sauce/sample incident, honestly.

So, this peri peri sauce. There’s a fair amount of conjecture about what constitutes a good peri peri, but the constant theme is an absolute shit load of chillies, something tart, such as lemon, vinegar or both, and a bit of sugar to balance it all out. And there’s the rub – it’s all about balance, about adjusting those mammoth key flavours until they line up just how you want them. Easy.

There isn’t a lot to this.

You just need a blender.

Add at least a dozen birds’ eye chillies (next time, I’m going Scotch bonnet. Oh, yes), six cloves of garlic, a biggish peeled and roughly chopped onion, the juice of a lemon, two teaspoons of salt, a tablespoon of sugar, a teaspoon each of black and white pepper, two tablespoons of paprika, three tablespoons of olive oil, and about 75ml of white wine vinegar and hit blend.

Blend until nice and smooth, and then you’ve got a choice – to cook or not to cook?

If you’re going to use it as a marinade, don’t bother cooking it. If it’s going to be a table sauce, cook it through, so that the garlic and onion mellow in flavour. Just pour the sauce into a pan and let it bubble away, covered, on a very low heat for half an hour or so. Keep a close eye on it, and don’t let the bottom catch.

I prefer to cook the sauce because then it’s much more versatile. It keeps well in the fridge.

The uses for this type of hot sauce are limitless, but as that well-known high street chicken chain have discovered, it has a natural affinity for chicken … a jointed chicken, a few slashes added across each piece to let the sauce seep in, smothered in piri piri and left to marinade for a few hours before roasting in a hot oven is a meal that will literally change your life, and make you realise that the aforementioned high street chicken shack isn’t as good at this game as it thinks it is.