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Baked Piri Piri Chicken Thighs
“Piri piri is a popular Portuguese sauce made with African bird's eye chiles. Here we blend the hot peppers with sweet bell peppers, vinegar and spices to season baked chicken thighs. This easy, healthy chicken recipe is designed to make more than you need for one dinner. See Tips for ideas for using the leftovers to make healthy chicken tacos, grain bowls and salads.”
2 large red bell peppers, halved
1 medium red onion, halved
6 cloves garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 dried bird's eye chiles or serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded, if desired
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 bay leaves
6 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
Charred lemon for garnish
1Position racks in middle and upper thirds of oven. Preheat broiler to high. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
2Place bell peppers, onion and garlic on the prepared pan. Broil on the top rack, turning often, until charred on all sides, about 8 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 425°F.
3Meanwhile, heat oil and chiles in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chiles start to darken in color, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
4Coarsely chop the bell peppers and onion and peel the garlic; transfer to a blender. Add the chiles and oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, oregano, paprika and ground pepper; puree until smooth.
5Return the sauce to the pan and add bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
6Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on the baking sheet, skin-side up; sprinkle both sides with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and generously brush with ½ cup of the sauce.
7Bake on the upper rack until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, about 30 minutes. Turn the broiler to high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes.
8Brush each thigh with another 1 tablespoon of the sauce. Serve with additional sauce and charred lemons, if desired.
Tips: We designed this recipe to make more than you need for one dinner. Here are 3 ways to use the rest of the chicken and sauce throughout the week.
Build a Healthy Bowl: Top cooked whole grains with your favorite veggies, shredded leftover chicken and a drizzle of the sauce.
Sauce Up a Chicken Salad: Whisk some of the sauce with oil and vinegar to make a vinaigrette to toss with leafy greens. Top with chicken.
Turn Out Easy Tacos: Serve the chicken in warm corn tortillas with your favorite taco toppings.
To make ahead: Refrigerate sauce (Steps 1-5) for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Refrigerate chicken for up to 3 days.