Favorite Chicken

My 7 year old daughter Catherine is a bit finicky.  She does however love chicken.  About the time she began to eat on her own I was interning at my friend’s  (Inacio “Nash” Pinto) restaurant “O Lagar” and learning the ins and outs of a professional kitchen from Chef Agostinho Gomes (Augie) (now the chef at Taste of Portugal Restaurant in Newark).  Augie made this delicious dish of roast chicken layered on top of a rich sauce made with white wine, peppers, onions and garlic.  So full disclosure: the basis of this recipe is Augie but I have added to it and while his is still the best I think mine would come in a close second.  Why is it called “Favorite Chicken”?  Well it became (and still is) my daughter’s favorite food to eat.  The preparation is simple even if the list of ingredients is very large.  While you can play around with the ingredients the base ingredients of wine, peppers, mass de pimentão, onions and garlic is crucial.  Another important preparation, although not critical, is to brine the chicken.  This brine stage will add a fantastic flavor and texture boost to the chicken and ensure that it remains moist and juicy.   Brining poultry isn’t a tradiotnal Portuguese preparation method but it is used when making roasted suckling pig.  I am a big fan of brining and do it to all bone-in chicken even chicken wings.  Brining accomplishes three things: (1) it flavors the food since salt and other spices infuse the meat, (2) it tenderizes the meat and (3) it ensures that the cooking process doesn’t dry out the meat…especially poultry white meat.  You can leave the chicken in the brine during the day and when you get home assemble the dish and pop it in the even.  It only takes an hour to cook at 400 degrees.  I like “Frank’s RedHot” cayenne pepper sauce since it isn’t very spicy and has great flavor but you can use your favorite piri piri (hot sauce). **Note** I use parsley stems in this recipe because all I want is the taste and flavor notes of the parsley.  Why waste the pretty leaves? .  Parsley stems have more concentrated flavor than the leaves and since they are generally thrown out I utilize them here since I am not decorating the finished dish with parsley.

Serves 4


Favorite Chicken
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Yield: 4


  • For the brine:
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Portuguese Seven Spice Powder
  • 8 bone-in chicken leg quarters
  • For the chicken:
  • 2 onions halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 heads of unpeeled garlic halved
  • the stems of 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 sweet red pepper halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes crumbled with your hands
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 1/4 cup Portuguese olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons "Frank's RedHot"
  • 2 tablespoons massa de pimentão
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Portuguese Seven Spice Powder


  • Place the water, salt, sugar and spice mixture in a pot and heat until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Let it cool and then pour it into a food grade receptacle or pot large enough to accommodate the chicken. Place the chicken inside and top off with cold tap water so the chicken is fully immersed. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
  • Remove the chicken and drain in a colander while you prepare the base. In a large roasting pan, big enough to hold the 8 chicken pieces, place the onions, garlic, peppers, parsley stems, bay leaves, and bouillon cubes. Place the drained chicken on top of this. In a bowl mix the wine, olive oil, hot sauce, smoked paprika and massa de pimentão and mix well. Pour this over the chicken pieces making sure that each portion is treated. Sprinkle the seven spice powder over the chicken cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 400 degree oven. After a half hour remove the aluminum foil and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees. Remove from the oven and let it rest. Serve with French fries and salad.