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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Piri Piri Sauce

This is the national sauce of Portugal, adapted from George Mendes' new cookbook, My Portugal.

Mendes writes, “I love the heat and fragrance of hot Portuguese piri piri chilies, but they’re hard to find here. The closest approximation is dried or fresh Thai bird’s eye chilies. You can experiment with different chilies, but make sure you choose hot ones.”
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 3/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, notches torn every 1/2 inch
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup dried red piri piri peppers or bird’s eye chilies
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 fresh red piri piri pepper or bird’s eye chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon pimento
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1. Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom, then add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden and tender, about 7 minutes.
2. Add the dried chilies to the pan with enough oil to cover them. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer gently until the dried chilies are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and fresh chile and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the Bourbon and pimento, and bring to a boil. Boil hard, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and remove from the heat.
4. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree to the desired consistency. I prefer my piri piri smooth, but you can also make it more rustic and chunky if you like. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Makes 3/4 cup.

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