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The Weird Chick

Portuguese Garlic Chicken

June 27th,2015

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Vovo's Chicken

Growing up, my siblings and I spent a lot of time at our grandparents’ homes, and I’m not going to lie, I was not happy about that as a kid. Partially. My dad’s parents’ house was fine, because my cousins used to leave their N64 there all the time, and I didn’t have one and damn did I love that thing. But my mom’s? I love them, really, but there was nothing to play with at that house but old toys from my other cousin. They didn’t even have cable TV, and this was the 90s and early 00s. I spent a lot of time reading there (and watching Maury, but they can never know that), with which I suppose I was fine since I absolutely loved to read then (I still like to read but not as much for some reason). The real redeeming thing about going there (besides quality time with my grandparents, but I didn’t understand that as a little kid!) was my avó’s chicken and rice. All of us, my siblings and my cousins, love that chicken. We also happen to love her pizza, but that’s another story.

A year or so ago, I finally got the recipe from my avó. And when I say recipe, I mean a list of ingredients. Portuguese people apparently never measure anything, so if anybody is wondering why I never know the exact measurements of my recipes, it’s because of my grandmothers. I learned to cook from them. Also work, actually. I work as a baker, and I have learned that exact measurements are unnecessary and get in the way of getting things done now. That’s how it is in a bakery: get it done, get it done, get it done right now I don’t care how! I could go on and on about it, but in cooking and baking bread, measuring really isn’t all that important if you don’t mind things coming out a little different every time. That said, it took me about a year to finally get this chicken right. Why? I don’t know, I haven’t miraculously figured out the ratios or anything; it just works now. I suppose the cooking fairies have let themselves into my kitchen.

Vovo's Chicken

Simple stuff, super delicious, and not very good for you, but who cares? It’s grandma food, and who doesn’t love grandma food? All you need is some garlic (powder, fresh, or that minced stuff in a jar), wine (red or white, or even wine vinegar), hot sauce (traditionally this recipe calls for a piri piri hot sauce but my avó uses Frank’s and I use whatever is on sale), salt, and chicken, obviously. You can also make this with pork if you like; I just happen to prefer chicken breast. My avó and I use a large pot to fry the meat, but if you’re not bothered by oil splattering, you can use a regular frying pan. Mix everything up in a bowl, and marinate for a bit if you want, or start frying immediately. The frying is a little tedious, but this stuff is so good it’s worth it. The sauce you get from that leftover marinade… oh man do I love that stuff. Once you’re done frying and you have all those tasty meat bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, you just pour the leftover marinade in, add some more oil, and simmer it down to a nice sauce.

Estimating measurements, as always! It’s really the ratio that’s important. As long as you get that about right, things will taste as they should. The amounts just affect how much sauce you’ll get (and I usually add more liquid when making the sauce because I want a lot). So don’t worry too much about getting things exact. I also cook in large batches, so feel free to use less if you don’t want leftovers.

Vovo's Chicken

Vóvó's Garlic and Wine Chicken
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  1. 1kg Chicken Breast
  2. 2 tbsp Garlic, minced
  3. 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  4. 2 tbsp Cayenne Hot Sauce
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Oil for frying
  1. Thinly slice the chicken breasts, about a centimetre or so thick (roughly 1/4 of an inch) and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients except the oil, and stir everything well. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or overnight if desired, or move on to step two.
  2. In a large pot or frying pan (pot is preferable because there is a lot of oil splatter) over medium-high heat, add enough oil to cover the bottom of your pot and a little bit more. When the oil is hot, begin frying the chicken in batches, flipping when the edges begin to look cooked. If you overcook the meat a little, don't worry, so does my avó, and it's still good. When the chicken just starts to get a little char on it, it's done.
  3. Once you're done frying the meat, pour the leftover marinade into the pot and allow it to bubble and get all that good stuff off the bottom of the pot. Lower the heat a bit and stir until it thickens up. The sauce should be a dark brown colour. After about three minutes it should be ready.
The Weird Chick

Vovo's Chicken

My avó always serves this with wonderfully sticky calrose rice and a simple salad made with red leaf lettuce, onion, oil, red wine vinegar, and salt. I forgot to buy lettuce this morning so I didn’t have salad.

I hope you enjoy! It’s a fairly common Portuguese recipe to my knowledge, so if you like trying different cultural foods, give this one a shot; it’s a delicious introduction to Portugal.

Vovo's Chicken
He’s waiting for me to look away.

One response to “Portuguese Garlic Chicken”

  1. […] bunch of stuff, including my beloved burritos (no joke, I practically live off of that stuff), my grandmother’s signature chicken, taco soup (I call it soup but apparently it might be chili), and poutine-stuffed meatloaf (trust […]

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