Piri piri chicken with black beans and tomatoes

Piri piri chicken with black beans and tomatoes

Cut the Carbs!

This could be a story about how when we went to Portugal we ate terrific piri piri chicken. Except it’s not. Lisbon in late June is not for the faint-hearted. It’s searingly hot, the kind of heat where the pavement seems to warp from the beating beams of glare. The air is soupish and the only place you want to be is in the water, or the shade doing nothing more energetic than chasing stray drips off an ice cream. I’m sure if we looked properly we might have found the quarter of chicken, charred and blistered with peppers, oregano, citrus and acids that we hoped for. Except we didn’t. On our final day we resorted to eating salt cod with a side dish of mild disappointment. It wasn’t until we returned home to London that I realised we didn’t need to be in Portugal to have the chicken we dreamed of. All we needed were some spices, some patience – and a strong pair of scissors.


Quantity Ingredient
1.8-2kg chicken
250g cherry tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of black beans, rinsed
3 double handfuls kale, roughly chopped
6 marinated red peppers, drained and diced
aioli, to serve

Piri piri marinade

Quantity Ingredient
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into rough chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled
125ml olive oil
60ml red wine vinegar
1-2 chillies
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 lemon, grated zest and juiced
A pinch sea salt
dried chilli flakes or chilli powder, to taste (optional)
brown sugar, to taste (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
  2. To make the marinade, blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavouring – if you like more heat, add chilli flakes or some chilli powder; if it’s too acrid, add a little brown sugar. The sweetness and the heat will depend on which peppers, chillies and red wine vinegar you use. You want a balance of warmth and vinegar.
  3. Transfer the marinade to a frying pan over medium heat and sauté it for 5–7 minutes to thicken it, stirring frequently. Set it aside to cool slightly.
  4. To cut the backbone out of the chicken, the easiest method is with some kitchen scissors. Once it’s been removed, splay the chicken out onto a board and press it down to flatten it. Pour half the marinade over the chicken and massage it into the skin. Reserve or freeze the other half of the marinade.
  5. Place the chicken in a roasting tray with the cherry tomatoes. Bake it in the preheated oven for about 45–50 minutes, or until the chicken breast reaches 73˚C internally and the juices in the leg of the chicken run clear when you prick it with a knife.
  6. Leave the chicken to rest while you prepare the vegetables. Put the black beans, kale, roasted cherry tomatoes and marinated peppers in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the beans are warm and the kale has wilted.
  7. Carve the chicken and serve it with the warmed vegetables, a little extra sauce from the roasting tray and some Aïoli on the side.


  • It’s well worth it to spatchcock the chicken. It allows the marinade to cover much more of the surface of the bird. It also allows the chicken to cook more swiftly.
low carb
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