For My Valentine,
12 7 Foods To Fall In Love With: One sexy, spatchcocked chicken (1st of 12 7 parts)
To spatchcock means â€œto butterflyâ€ â€“ in this case, a chicken â€“ splitting it down the center whilst taking care not to cut through it completely. Yeah, I could just say â€œbutterfly the darn thingâ€ but I like spatchcock because itâ€™s more interesting and infinitely naughtier sounding.
Note: I aim to finish off this list by Friday, Feb 12, 2010 because I also intend to celebrate Valentineâ€™s Day with my Valentine. (Yes, Iâ€™m a huge proponent of Feb 14). So, 12 posts / 5 days = 2.4 posts/day. Okay, so I was out of my mind when I attempted to do 12 posts in 5 days. (whacking forehead) Iâ€™ve whittled it down to 7 posts in 5 days. The rest will follow next week.
The chicken you see above is from O’sonho (pronounced: aw-SAWN-yo), a Portuguese restaurant whose name means “the dream.” The bird is called the Whole Roast Peri Peri Chicken (P720) and it wonâ€™t be rushed. It takes a good 45 minutes (it says so on the menu and I timed it) to cook, but wow, what an arrival it makes!
Coming to table awash in an exhilarating perfume, the first thing I notice is the birdâ€™s sultry position. â€œItâ€™s so sexy itâ€™s almost obscene,â€ I remark suggestively. N agrees.
Peri-peri (also piri-piri) are African birdâ€™s-eye chilies, a cousin to the Philippinesâ€™ siling labuyo. In Portugal, the word “piri-piri” is a catch-all for hot peppers, a table staple there since the 15th century. Two of the most famous dishes that use peri-peri are frango com piri-piri and camaroes com piri-piri, peri-peri chicken and shrimp, respectively, grilled dishes that rely on little more than peri-peri sauce and few other aromatics. Peri-peri sauce is a rather new discovery for me: a sauce made from roasted red chilies (Oâ€™sonho uses bell peppers) that are then simmered with (among other things) garlic, salt, paprika, olive oil, vinegar, and thyme. When cooled, the mixture is then blitzed in a food processor and stored in a jar. Itâ€™s ravishingly red, torrid in heat, and more addicting than should be legal.
Oâ€™sonhoâ€™s peri-peri sauce is rather tame, but donâ€™t believe me since Iâ€™m the one with the asbestos tongue and hands. The sauce is dotted though with lots of bell pepper seeds and a light olive oil, the combination of which dribbles down my lips and onto my chin – thereâ€™s no long-lasting lipstick on the planet that can withstand this. The chicken itself has been marinated in bunches of thyme and grilled practically perfectly, juicy with hardly any signs of blood; even the breast meat is moist. N and I ladle too-generous spoonfuls of the peri-peri sauce onto each forkful of chicken; in total, we ask the waiter for three refills of it. So given in to my exPERIence with peri-peri, I ditch my utensils and use my fingers to eat. N rolls his head back and laughs uproariously. Then does the same.
N and I also thoroughly enjoy the seafood paella (Paella De Frutos Do Mar; P460) that we order to go with the chicken. Though pitifully deprived of attention over the chicken, itâ€™s a satisfying mix of rice and seafood cooked in turmeric and cumin. And oh yeah, the sangria (for me) and the mojito (for N) are good examples of the barâ€™s capabilities. Check out their iced tea served in a fishbowl.
O’sonho Portuguese Fusion Restobar
Unit 1 C Valdeleon Bldg., 20 Jupiter St.