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Growing up in a Portuguese household I attended church on Sundays with my family, usually followed by a feast of fresh salads, soups, salty olives, piri-piri chicken, thin beef steaks smothered in mushrooms, grilled onions and vegetables, and bottle upon bottle of the always sugary, fizzy and fruity “Sumol” (red wine for the adults).

Portuguese cuisine holds a close spot in my heart – it enveloped our family traditions, was my first introduction to any sort of cooking, and one of the reasons for my super chubby cheeks as an adolescent (how could you ever put the fork down when you’re surrounded by such amazing food?).

Portuguese cuisine is comprised of whole foods, and a bit of everything – fresh fruits and vegetables, wheat and other whole grains, fish and seafood, hearty olive oils and robust red wine. Because the food is truly so versatile and delicious, it solidifies my beliefs that whole foods are the best nutritionally, and the best tasting.

Gathering around the table with friends and family to eat and socialize is a meal time tradition held by the Portuguese culture and many other European countries.  It is something different than a faster paced North American culture, the social aspect of it breeds better relationships, increased happiness and is part of their healthy lifestyle. Usually lunch is the biggest meal of the day where everyone gathers to eat, drink and socialize.

Piri-piri is a popular Portuguese dish known by many. Typically – piri-piri is a blend of chili, garlic, an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, and other spices. This was my inspiration for my Garlic Chili Chicken, along with my step-moms Azorean flare on the dish when I was a kid, which meant it was always a bit spicier and garlicy, and contained less of the acid part.

When creating my menu I incorporate items I know are sure to please, and have a healthy balance of flavor and nutritional value. Thus my Garlic Chili Chicken was born!

Give it a try guys, feedback on the dish has been tremendous, and I will be adding a vegetable side to the roasted baby potatoes to make it more complete when I launch the new menu!