Author Notes: …I say “piri piri”. Let’s call the whole thing off.
This comes under the heading of your “sexier table condiments”. This hot oil is common to both France and Portugal. Why? Because they both had colonies in West Africa. Piri Piri (or Pili Pili) is a West African (Swahili) name for a type of hot chile. BUT it’s not native to Africa. The Portuguese introduced the peppers via Brasil. And yes, slaves were involved. I first came across this in Portugal but in Provence it’s sold as an oil for pizza. This is good with just about anything that comes off of a hot grill, like chicken. You will need a glass bottle that you can sterilize first and recycle or dispose of later---the ones I use cost a buck each including the cork. You will want the hottest, smallest peppercorns that you can find, like chile pequin. But I’ve done this with a combination of Szechuan peppers and dried cayenne peppers. It’s whatever fits in the bottle. Having some longer peppers in there makes it look nice. I’m not giving you precise measurements because it all depends on the size of the bottle or jar you are using.
Serves your best friend
- Olive oil (really good olive oil)
- Dried hot red peppers of your choosing (you can use pepper flakes)
- Fennel seed
- Rosemary sprig
- Bay leaf
- Black pepper corns
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Carefully add your intended bottle without the stopper. Remove and allow to dry and cool.
- Fill the bottle with the dry ingredients.
- Using a funnel pour in olive oil up to the neck.
- Stopper this up and then let it sit for one week in a corner some place. When you’re passing by give it a quick shake to make it angry.
- Note to cook: I make this in small batches because once you add adulterants to oil you start worrying about things like botulism. The hot peppers are pretty effective at fighting that off but don’t take risks that are unnecessary.