Portuguese food is all the rage here at DECO, inspired by features editor Lin’s recent trip to Mozambique*. So much so, that we’ve convinced some of South Africa’s top chefs to share their Portuguese-inspired recipes.
First up is the lovely Jessica Sheperd from Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch, with a recipe for Peri-Peri Chicken Livers. Over to Jessica
Peri-Peri Chicken Livers By Jessica Sheperd
Portugal. Considered the oldest country in Europe, as it has never changed its name or borders. I have never travelled there, but have heard that once you do you will instantly fall in love with its history, landscapes, food and wine. If Spain is anything to go by, I am sure Portugal and I would get along just fine.
How great would it be to sit in one of the local cafes with a cup of coffee and a plate of the traditional pasteis de nata. Those little custard tarts could prove to be a serious addiction.
Portuguese cuisine is renowned for being robust and full-flavoured, shaped greatly by their rich seafaring history. It was in 1487 that Portuguese explorers braved the Cape of Storms in their effort to establish a trade route to the East. And it was on African soil that a single discovery provided their food with an unimaginable spicy kick. The story goes that a small fiery chili used and grown by the locals of Mozambique was introduced to the Portuguese. Finding it difficult to pronounce pili-pili, the Swahili word for the indigenous Bird’s Eye chili, they became known as piri-piri, or peri-peri.
Feeling somewhat inspired by the new found knowledge that Peri-Peri has African roots, and stocked with some local brews (Darling Brew Slow Beer and Brewers & Union Craft Beer), it was time to cook up some Portuguese style Peri-Peri Chicken Livers.
A lot of people are quite sensitive when it comes to eating offal such as liver. I personally love it. I think it has a lot to do with first experiences. Overcooked liver is truly awful. They need to be melting soft and slightly pink in the centre. Cooked, but only just.
– 1 onion, thinly slices
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– olive oil and butter for frying
– 1kg ripe tomatoes
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 1 teaspoon ground peri-peri chili (you can also add fresh chili, finely chopped)
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– peri peri sauce for extra heat (we used Nando’s…)
– 500g free range chicken livers
– 100ml Madeira or similar fortified wine or even brandy
– 100ml cream (optional)
– flat leaf parsley
– sea salt and black pepper to taste
– Portuguese rolls to serve
– I cook the onions first as I want them to be soft and caramelised. Melt some butter and olive oil in a saucepan, add the sliced onions and cook on a medium to low heat until golden brown. Set aside.
– Now to blanche the tomatoes. Mark the tomatoes with a small X on the top, taking care not to cut too deep into the flesh. Bring a pot of water to the boil and immerse the tomatoes in the water for 15 – 20 seconds. You will see the skin beginning to peel back. Immediately place the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water.
– Peel the skin from the tomatoes, then cut in half and half again. Remove the seeds, dice roughly and set aside.
– Using a pestle and mortar create a paste from the ground chili, fresh chili, paprika and garlic. Add some olive oil to a medium size saucepan, add the paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
– At this stage add your hot sauce, as spicy as you like. Like I said before, we used Nando’s … Allow the sauce to simmer on a low heat whilst you prepare the rolls and cook the livers.
– Cut a hollow in each Portuguese roll. These will act as vessels for your livers and the tops serve as lids. Toast under the grill.
– Add olive oil or butter to a large pan, allowing the heat to get smoking hot. Add the chicken livers and cook on each side for a minute or two. You are literally flash frying the livers, allowing them to remain soft and juicy. Add the caramelised onions, then the alcohol. Be aware that the alcohol may catch alight with gusto, effectively flambéing the livers. Onlookers will be impressed.
– To finish off, add the cream (if using) as well as the peri-peri tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Add the freshly chopped parsley. Spoon into the bread bowls, pop on the lids and serve.