As part of my Rouxbe professional cook course I was given a black-box challenge. The challenge was to prepare a meal with 3 dishes to include: 1) a lean protein 2) a legume, grain or pasta dish containing vegetables and 3) a green, red or yellow vegetable side dish. This got my creative juices flowing. I had a hankering for Nando’s peri peri chicken one day and that’s how the idea came about for this Portuguese themed menu. Portuguese food is great, it’s a bit of a fusion of Mediterranean but you also have the African influence with the spices and well-known peri peri.
The obvious starch to accompany the chicken was the Portuguese rice so I researched several recipes and this one is a culmination of all. The next part of the research was to find a Portuguese vegetable side dish that would accompany the other dishes. There were many potato dishes or legume only dishes. The original recipe for the Migas de Couve e Feijão, had collard greens. I thought it needed a bit of colour, so I added the rainbow chard instead. Migas means crumbs and they are normally cooked in the pan with the other ingredients to soak up juices from the other ingredients. I thought the end result would mean that the bread would be soggy, so I made croutons with the bread and added them at the end so that they were crispy. The result is a mix of different textural elements from the protein, the crunchiness of the croutons, softness of the butter beans and a bit of bite from the rice ingredients.
I hope I've done it justice for my Portuguese friend and followers. It's not really a complex meal but it does take a bit of planning and timing. It is best to start with the chicken, then the rice and finally the Migas de Couve e Feijão.
Spatchcock Peri Peri Chicken Ingredients Large cornfed chicken 2 tbsp. butter
Peri Peri Seasoning 1 tbsp. sea salt 1 tbsp. ground cardamom 1 tbsp. hot paprika 1 tbsp. cumin 1 tsp. grated nutmeg 1 tbsp. onion granules 1 tsp. black pepper Peri Peri Spatchcock Chicken Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
First make the spice rub. Pulse all the spices until you have a ground spice blend.
Now onto the spatchcock. I'd never spatch-cocked a chicken before so I thought I'd give it a go. If you don't like handling meat and are a bit squeamish, find one already prepared. If you fancy giving it a go, you'll need a decent sharp kitchen scissors.
Start with placing the chicken breast side down. Have a feel for the back-bone, you'll be cutting either side of it to remove it. Start on the left side and cut along the back-bone to the end with the scissors.
You can do the same on the right side or turn it around and start from the other end if that feels more comfortable.
Pull away the back-bone, you can freeze this and use it for making stock at a later stage.
Turn the chicken over with breast side facing up. Lean heavily on the centre of the chicken, i.e. put your full weight onto it until you hear the bones snapping, sorry, it's graphic I know. You should be able to splay the chicken out until it's nearly flattened.
Pat the skin dry with some kitchen paper and then lather the butter all over the chicken. Then apply the rub, coating all the skin.
Place the chicken in a roasting tray and roast for 40 minutes. You can test to see if it's done by making a small incision in the chicken between the leg and the breast. If the juices run clear, then it is cooked. If you have a thermometer, you can stick that in the same place, if it's cooked it should have reached 74 degrees Celsius.
Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a rack and cover with tin foil. Pierce 2 slits in the foil. Allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Portuguese Style Rice Ingredients
700 ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow and 1/2 red pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup peas
2 cups brown basmati rice
1 tsp. chilli flakes
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt & 1 tsp. pepper
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 pinch of saffron, diluted in 2 tbsp. warm water
Portuguese Style Rice Method
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion.
Sauté the onion until translucent and add the peppers. Cook until slightly softened. Then add the garlic and fry for a minute.
Add the rice and toasted for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli flakes, turmeric, salt and pepper and stir.
Add the chopped tomatoes and saffron and cook for 4 minutes.
Add in 100ml of the stock. Allow to reduce and continue with the same process until all the stock is gone. If the rice is still not cooked, add some water or more stock.
Stir in the peas and cook for 3 minutes.
Cover the pan with a lid and allow to rest.
Migas de Couve e Feijão Ingredients
1 1/2 cups stale sourdough or any chunky bread, cut into large cubes
1 tin of butter beans
1 cup onion, diced
Juice of half lemon
2 cup of shredded rainbow chard, including the stalks
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 sprig of thyme, leaves removed
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Migas de Couve e Feijão Ingredients Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Have a baking tray at the ready. Toss the bread in 2 tbsp. of olive oil and the thyme on the tray. Season with salt and pepper.
Toast the croutons in the oven until they are turning nice and golden brown, roughly about 7 minutes. Keep an eye on them though. Once they are ready, remove from the oven and set aside.
Heat a frying pan and add the remaining olive oil. Sauté the onion until softened.
Add in the garlic and the chilli. Fry for 1 minute. Add the the chard and fry for 4 minutes. Pour in the stock and allow it to reduce until the liquid is pretty much evaporated. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the croutons and serve.
The Portuguese are better known for their red wine and obviously port. I came across this lovely white called Sanha Branco. It is a blend of three grapes, Bical, Maria Gomes and Cerceal. It has citrus and orchard fruit notes and has a good acidity level. The wine connoisseur. would probably pair this with a sweet or oaky white to balance the heat and spice. However, the refreshing acidity complements these dishes very well in my opinion.