Zesty and beautifully rustic, my harissa chicken is a mouthwatering one-pan chicken recipe scented with bright, aromatic spices and rich, earthy flavor. Prepared with an accompaniment of yellow baby potatoes and a delicious sauce made with aromatic onions and garlic, this easy harissa chicken recipe is comfort food with a delicious North African slant!
A Sprinkle of Harissa Makes For a Magical Chicken Dish
Friends, I am in deep, deep love with my spice cabinet...
For me, spices are the magical ingredients that give flair and personality to any dish they are incorporated into, bringing new and mouthwatering flavor twists to classic preparations in order to awaken our senses and warm and invigorate us from within.
No two spices are alike, and what they bring to a dish is the subtle, glorious taste of the region of the world from which they hail, providing us with a flavor snapshot and a chance to “travel” via our tastebuds to unique and far away places.
And isn't that an exquisite thing?
Harissa, a North African blend of spices consisting of a combination of paprika, chili peppers, cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, and cool spearmint, is a beloved spice blend of mine to create with. A beautiful and deep brick-red hue, it offers the palate flavors that are at once warming and earthy, as well as bright, zesty, and incredibly savory.
Harissa has a delicious complexity which does wonders for all sorts of foods from vegetables to hummus to a variety of meats, with chicken being a particularly fantastic canvas.
My harissa chicken is a rich, rustic, one-pan chicken dish that while incredibly simple to prepare, offers a little taste of the robust flavors found in North African cuisine.
With its accompaniment of halved baby yellow potatoes and a delicious light sauce flavored with onions, smashed whole cloves of garlic, and finished with a sprinkle of fresh mint and oregano, these harissa chicken thighs are the epitome of comfort food with a rustic and fantastically earthy twist.
My Harissa Chicken Recipe
A terrific thing about harissa is how incredibly versatile it is, not only in its use, but in its preparation as well…
One can purchase harissa as a dry seasoning blend (harissa seasoning) in the spice section of the market, or purchase it in a jar as a paste, already mixed with oil and a few other herbs and seasonings.
I personally like to purchase the dry harissa seasoning blend, because this way, I can either sprinkle it directly onto a food as a spice, or create my own paste with my own additions, depending on the type of preparation I'm using it for—the flexibility is great.
These days, one can typically find harissa, in either form, in most markets, but if your local market doesn't carry it, it can easily be found and ordered online.
For my harissa chicken recipe here, I am creating a paste with my harissa seasoning blend, by using equal parts harissa seasoning and olive oil, plus an addition of lemon zest for a bright note.
This combination provides incredible flavor and aroma to the skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs that I use for this recipe, creating a rich, golden-brown color and crisp skin once the thighs are seared off and then roasted in the pan.
And because I love a good one-pan recipe with an accompaniment included, I've added buttery, baby yellow potatoes and a light sauce for the harissa-rubbed thighs to sit atop of and roast to crispy perfection.
Here's a sneak peek at my harissa chicken recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I create my harissa paste, and rub each chicken thigh liberally with the spice blend. I allow the chicken thighs to rest for about 5 minutes while I then season my halved baby potatoes to have ready to add to the pan later.
- Once the potatoes are seasoned, I sear the chicken thighs in my large cast iron skillet for a few minutes per side, then remove from the pan.
- Next, I create a light sauce by sauteing some onion and smashed whole cloves of garlic, then adding in a touch of chicken stock.
- I now add my seasoned potatoes in a single layer to the pan, nestle my seared chicken thighs atop of those, add some slices of fresh lemon, then bake the thighs for about 50 minutes until golden-brown, crispy, and juicy.
- To finish the harissa chicken, I garnish the dish with a few fresh mint leaves and oregano leaves, then serve with some of the potatoes and a generous spoonful of the sauce over top.
by Ingrid Beer
This harissa chicken is roasted to perfection with an accompaniment of baby potatoes in a rich sauce for a deliciously zesty one-pan meal!
Cuisine: North African
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 451 calories per serving
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon, harissa seasoning (not paste), divided use
- Olive oil
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 6 chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in
- Black pepper
- 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds baby yellow potatoes, halved
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- 8 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 6 thin slices of lemon
- Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredients list above o have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Prepare your harissa paste: to a small dish add the 2 tablespoons of harissa, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, plus the lemon zest, and mix with a fork until a thick paste forms.
- Place the chicken thighs on a work surface in front of you, and rub each thigh (skin-side and flesh-side) liberally with some a of harissa paste, until well covered. Sprinkle over each thigh a pinch or two of salt and pepper, then set the chicken thighs onto a platter to hold for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, place the halved baby potatoes into a bowl, drizzle over them a small amount of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons), and sprinkle over them the remaining 1 teaspoon of harissa seasoning, plus the oregano, a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper. Toss together until covered evenly in the seasoning, and set aside for a moment.
- To sear the chicken thighs, place a large cast iron skillet (or other large, oven-proof, heavy bottom skillet) over medium to medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add a batch of the chicken thighs into the pan, skin-side down, and allow them to sear on that first side for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown. Flip and sear on the second side for 3 minutes more, then remove from pan and place chicken onto a platter to hold. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Once all chicken is seared, carefully wipe out the pan from any excess oil/grease and other larger burned bits, and drizzle in a touch of clean olive oil, if needed. With the pan on medium heat, add in the onions and the smashed garlic cloves, and saute for 5 minutes, until lightly golden.
- Next, pour in the chicken stock, allow it to simmer up, then turn off the heat from under the skillet.
- Add in the seasoned baby potatoes, arranging them in a single, even layer on the bottom of the pan. Nestle the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes, add a slice of lemon to each chicken thigh, and place into the oven to bake for 50 minutes, or until the harissa chicken is a deep, golden-brown and cooked through.
- To finish the harissa chicken, sprinkle over a few small mint leaves and/or oregano leaves, and serve one harissa chicken thigh per person with a few potato halves, and top with sauce.
Tips & Tidbits for my Harissa Chicken recipe:
- Chicken thighs for tender, juicy meat: I love to use chicken thighs for this preparation, as they are naturally succulent and richly flavored, and an ideal canvas for the harissa paste rub. It's also quite difficult to overcook chicken thighs, as they remain moist and flavorful since they have the bone-in and skin-on, even if left in the oven slightly longer.
- Yellow baby potatoes, or red: I've opted for buttery yellow baby potatoes that I like to halve for this recipe, but feel free to use baby red potatoes, or even larger waxy potatoes that you cut into quarters or into smaller chunks. Avoid russets potatoes, as they are quite starchy for this preparation.
- Find harissa seasoning at your market, or order online: Typically, most markets carry harissa seasoning these days in their spice section. However, if you have difficulty finding it, you can look for harissa seasoning online and purchase it that way.
- Lemon, for brightness: I like to add a hint of lemon zest to the harissa paste rub that I prepare for the recipe, as it reinforces those slightly bright notes already present in harissa. I also love to add a thin slice of fresh lemon on top of each chicken thigh before baking, as these caramelize slightly in the oven, creating a tasty squeeze of juice as a finisher.
Hungry for more zesty recipes? Check out this Balsamic Chicken, these Braised Chicken Thighs, this Stuffed Eggplant, this Pan Seared Salmon, or this Stuffed Acorn Squash!
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