Piri Piri Style Chicken Liver

piri-piri-chicken-liverA few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance about my intolerance for fried liver. I had told her that while I love pate, stomaching the traditional “liver and onions” was something that I could not do. I can remember even as a child, being served up fried liver and nearly puking as I tried to eat it.

Oddly though, I adore liver pate! I even make my own “rough cut” pate from chicken livers based on this recipe from gas-tron-o-my.  I don’t have a food processor (Hint, hint, Santa Clause!), but making pate in this manner, the way it’s done at Pizzeria Mozza, is no problem with no food processor on hand. Anyhow, my aquaintance mentioned to me that she sometimes makes up a “Piri Piri” style of fried chicken livers and suggested I try it out.

Piri Piri dishes are South African, and make good use of the Piri Piri, or African bird’s eye, chili pepper. There are a variety of spice blends or sauces that are referred to as “piri piri,” and the blends themselves can vary, but paprika is apparently also an important part of piri piri dishes. I was told to look for something called “Portuguese Chicken Spice,” and after much searching I was finally able to source some here in Ontario, Canada at The South African Store located in Toronto. Thankfully, their website provides for online ordering (with a minimum $50.00 order, so along with the Portuguese chicken spice, I ordered some other things to try, including “Flings,” fig jam, and some dried beef snacks prepared in a South African way).

My friend is kind of like me in that she doesn’t use recipes when she’s cooking, but rather just cooks up meals using amounts of whatever she has on hand at the time, and sometimes varying the ingredients. However, I was able to discover that her Piri Piri style chicken liver dish contains some basics with some optional ingredients. I added my own twist on this by adding a cup of shredded spinach (for the magnesium content as well as the additional green colour). What I ended up with was a dish that I thoroughly enjoyed even though it contained liver! I’ll definitely be doing this again.

So while this is probably not entirely the way some cook chicken livers, but I like it!

Piri Piri Chicken Liverportuguese chicken spice

Ingredients (The Way I Did It):

  • 4 to 5 Chicken Livers
  • 1 Large Diced Onion
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Large Diced Tomato
  • Heaped 1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Salt
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Portuguese Chicken Spice
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream (I used 35% whipping cream)
  • Large handful of chopped spinach


Heat up enough olive oil to cover bottom of the skillet, then saute the onion and garlic.

Add the diced tomato and cook at medium-low for several minutes. When the diced tomato begins releasing its juice, add in the chicken livers and stir well. Sprinkle in the Himalayan salt.

Add the Portuguese chicken spice, stirring well. Simmer for several minutes.

Stir in the cream, turn heat down to simmer and then add spinach leaves. Simmer for several more minutes.

I really enjoyed this – and can think of a number of other ingredients to try as well. For their part, others will sometimes add sweet green, red and yellow peppers, additional cayenne powder, or a tin of tomato and onion mix.  If you are one of those that can’t stand the taste of the regular old “fried onion and livers,” give this a try! There is still the hint of the liver texture that some find objectionable, but the overall taste is really good!

Liver and other organ meats have high nutritional value and it’s quite likely that most of us do not get enough of it. According to Chris Kesser, liver is “nature’s most potent superfood” and “…that in some traditional cultures, only the organ meats were consumed. ” It’s very high in a form of Vitamin A that our bodies can use and absorb. Some people even claim that after eating liver, their energy and stamina levels increase substantially!


Mmmm! I had some of this left in my cast iron frying pan and got busy doing some things before I could go back for seconds.  When I remembered I had left the heat on (on low), I thought maybe the small amount that was left might have been ruined. While it was dried out some, it had not burned – and so I had the idea to make it into a spread… over a slice of homemade bread I baked today.

It was sooo good on that “No Knead Bread!