Peri Peri Chicken Livers – tender chunks of chicken livers, swimming in a tomato and onion gravy, spiced up with chilli. Grab your crusty breadroll and dive right in.
Peri Peri Chicken Livers
Peri Peri Chicken Livers is a traditional South African starter, served in restaurants all over the country and if you like hot and spicy food, you are going to love this dish.
It is served in a soup bowl, accompanied by a crusty breadroll. The chicken livers are swimming in a mouthwatering sea of tomatoes and onion sauce, liberally flavoured with peri peri chilli.
To eat it you break chunks of the breadroll and dip it into the sauce. The chicken livers are usually cut small enough to just spear with your fork. No knife needed. It is not really an elegant dish to eat, but oh my goodness – the taste is out-of-this-world.
I’ve been known to order two peri peri starters at once and eat them both instead of a main meal!
I know a lot of people turn their noses up at chicken livers (urgh – I don’t like liver), but believe me, once you have tried them you will be converted. They have a lovely creamy, buttery taste, and do not taste ‘livery’ at all.
What is Peri Peri?
In case you are wondering what Peri Peri is, it is a hot red chilli pepper, similar to a Bird’s Eye Chilli. It is cultivated in South Africa and the adjoining southern African countries. The word Peri is Swahili for pepper, so peri peri becomes pepper pepper, or strong pepper, the duplication of the word being used as an intensifier.
In South Africa, you can buy a bottle of readymade Peri Peri Sauce, the most popular being made by Knorr, or Nandos. I always kept a bottle of this in my kitchen so I could whip up a batch of chicken livers at a moment’s notice. About a quarter of a bottle (approximately 50 ml) is normally enough to flavour your chicken livers. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to source this in England, even at the South African shops, so I’ve had to improvise a little with the ingredients and make this recipe without the benefit of this sauce.
Update – I’ve since discovered that you can buy Nando’s peri-peri sauce on Amazon so I’ve included a link in the equipment section below. Unfortunately Amazon don’t seem to stock Knorr peri-peri sauce.
I made these many times when we were entertaining. If we were having a barbeque (the traditional sort where the meat only gets cooked once the beer is finished) then I would always make sure there was a huge dish of these to stave off the hunger pangs. I’d get people coming inside with empty plates – ‘got any more of those chicken livers?’. Luckily I always did.
How to make Peri Peri Chicken Liver
Whenever I read a recipe I like to have a look at the ingredients to see whether I have everything I need. To make it easy for you – I’ve listed the ingredients below. You can get the full list of ingredients and quantities in the printable recipe card further down in the post.
- Fresh Chicken Livers you can use frozen if you can’t get hold of fresh, just defrost them before using.
- Onions (roughly chopped)
- Tomatoes (roughly chopped and retain the juice) approximately the same amount by volume as the onions
- Sugar – I always add a small amount of sugar when cooking with tomatoes to bring out the flavour
- Dried Chilli Flakes (use your own judgment – add more if you like it extra spicy, or add less for a milder taste).
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tomato Paste (or puree)
- Garlic – finely minced (or you can substiute with a teaspoon or garlic paste )
- Sunflower Oil (for sweating the onion)
If you can get it, you can use 50ml (more or less according to your taste) of Knorr Peri Peri Sauce or Nando’s Peri Peri Sauce instead of the chilli flakes.
Prepare the ingredients
First of all you should prepare your ingredients:
- Rinse the chicken livers in cold water and pat dry on kitchen paper
- Chop the chicken livers into bite-sized pieces, discarding any bits of sinew.
- Chop the tomatoes and onions into a chunky dice. Aim for a 1cm to 2cm dice, but don’t be too particular about getting everything the same size. The tomato mostly cooks away into the sauce, and the onions become lovely and soft and translucent.
- If you have overripe tomatoes, so much the better. You need as much liquid as possible from the tomatoes because they provide all the liquid for this dish. Make sure to keep all the liquid along with the chopped tomatoes
- If you are using fresh garlic cloves, chop them as finely as you can with a sharp knife, or use a garlic press to mince the garlic
Cook the peri peri chicken livers
The next step is to cook it all:
- Heat 2 tablespoons sunflower oil in a wok or large frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry gently over a low heat to soften. It is important not to let the garlic brown or you may get a bitter taste.
- Add the chicken livers and continue frying, stirring all the while, until they are no longer pink.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, give it a good stir and bring to the boil.
- If you are using a shop-bought peri peri sauce (Knorr or Nandos) then don’t forget to leave out the dried chilli.
- Turn the heat down to a low simmer, put the lid on the pan and leave it for at least 30 minutes.
- Check for flavour. If you find that it doesn’t have enough ‘bite’ add a little more chilli, or more of the bottled sauce.
- Check occasionally to make sure it is not boiling dry. If it does start to dry out then add a splash of water to keep it moist.
- The lowest setting on my stovetop is ideal, but yours may be stronger, so keep checking. The aim is to reduce the liquid from the tomatoes by about half.
This recipe will feed 4 as a starter, and 2 as a main meal. If you want to make a bigger batch then just double the quantities of everything except the chilli. Use your own judgment on this. Remember, you can put it in but you can’t take it out.
I like to taste and adjust as I go along. The best way to do this is to take a small piece of bread and dip in in the sauce in the pan. That way you get a feel for what the final flavour will be, and how hot the chilli has made it.
Serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices. Or perhaps you’d like to try it with Seeded Irish Soda Bread.
Can I freeze this?
Yes, this freezes beautifully. Just ladle it into suitable containers and pop in the freezer.
To defrost you can use the defrost setting on your microwave or tip the frozen livers into a pan and heat gently on the stove to defrost, stirring occasionally.
Once defrosted, place in a saucepan on the stove over a gentle heat and leave until it is piping hot.
To make this recipe you will need the following equipment. In case you are missing something I have included some links to my Amazon shop pages, where you might just find the item you are looking for.
- Nando’s peri-peri sauce – in case you would like to make the chicken livers with this sauce.
- Sharp knife – for preparing the ingredients
- Chopping board – to protect your counter top
- Wok or large frying pan with a lid – for cooking the chicken livers
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Recipe – Peri Peri Chicken Livers
Peri Peri Chicken Livers
- 250 g Fresh Chicken Livers you can use frozen if you can't get hold of fresh
- 2 large Onions (roughly chopped)
- 4 large ripe Tomatoes (roughly chopped and retain the juice) approximately the same amount by volume as the onions
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Dried Chilli Flakes (use your own judgment)
- 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato puree (or tomato paste)
- 1 clove garlic (or you can use garlic paste)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil (for sweating the onion)
- 50 ml Knorr or Nandos peri peri sauce INSTEAD of the dried chilli flakes
- Rinse the chicken livers in cold water
- Chop the chicken livers into bite-sized chunks, discarding any bits of sinew
- Roughly chop the onions and tomatoes into approximately 1cm dice
- Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan (with a lid)
- Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Do not allow to brown
- Add the chicken livers and continue frying with the onion until they change colour and are no longer pink
- Add the tomatoes and the remainder of the ingredients. Make sure you add all the tomato juice.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer on the lowest heat you can get, with the lid on, for at least 30 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down and formed a rich gravy with the onions. The liquid from the tomatoes should be reduced by about half.
- Serve with crusty rolls or chunks of bread to mop up all the delicious gravy
The calorie count has been calculated using an on-line calculator and is provided for information purposes only. If the calorie count is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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