Finding random times to write blog posts is becoming a specialty of mine of late. Every bit of down time, like waiting for pasta water to boil, or rice to steam or shower water to heat up, my mind is formulating ideas and sentences. Whereas my husband would argue that there is plenty of time to do such things in his office (toilet), I draw the line there!
As luck or rather the lack thereof, would have it, all my craziness has just bought my life to a trundling stop. It was inevitable, I’ve been running on fumes for a couple of weeks now and this weekend was the last straw, I guess. I write this post in bed with my knee, swollen to the size of a watermelon, propped up and with an ice pack.
One thing about living with an auto immune condition, you only have so many energy rations per day. If you borrow from other days because you are trying to be some overachieving super hero, you will run out of your rations very quickly. When that happens, your body breaks down in the most horrible way. I am now at this point.
There is nothing more frustrating for someone who is always on the go to be suddenly crippled. I can’t walk or stand or even sit for long periods of time. Dinner has been pizza and leftovers, so you can imagine nothing exciting will be happening in my kitchen until this knee heals. This predicament is terribly unfortunate because yesterday I was given a huge box of organic, Colorado peaches by a good friend (thank you soooo much Mariyam :)) I am itching to break into that box and get baking with the beauties. I hope it happens sooner than later and before they all ripen to a pulpy mess.
In the meantime, I am going to share some recipes and dinners I made earlier. Hopefully, it will cover a couple of weeks at least and I can stay sane with y’all’s company.
So, this Harissa Roast Chicken has been, lately, my go to roast chicken recipe. I’ve been making it for a few months now and it is so good, that I decided I would share it with you. It’s nothing fancy and everyone roasts chicken, but if you haven’t thought about smearing harissa over it, do it! It is amazing!
I think one of the reasons why it is so easy and tasty, is because harissa is so flavourful and has all the seasonings in it already; garlic, peppers, olive oil and so forth. I’ve been using a store bought paste imported from Morocco and I really enjoy its spicy and tangy kick. But since I’ve been making this chicken for so long, I’ve also been longing to make my own harissa paste.
I researched many, many recipes; some with tomatoes, some with peppers, some with carrots, some with dried peppers, others with fresh peppers! I just about lost my mind. I read the ingredients of the paste I use and like, and found it contained sweet peppers, so I decided to experiment with roasted red bell peppers and dried red chillies.
My harissa paste came out fiery hot and with an obvious bell pepper taste. It’s really good, but not what I’m looking for so I’m going to play with it some more before I post my recipe. It has been really great for adding depth of flavour to various dishes though because it has a sweet, yet very hot and garlicky bite.
Anyway for this dish, just use your favourite harissa paste or your own harissa recipe for this chicken.
Also, if you’d like, you can sprinkle a teaspoon or two of Moroccan Ras el Hanout spices over the top of the chicken before roasting. My local Whole Foods has been carrying this great array of organic, spice mixes from all over the world and it has made life easier! They come in small boxes so you don’t end up with a huge jar of spices that lose their effectiveness before you’ve had the chance to use them, and they aren’t too expensive ($2.99). But the spices are optional. I’ve made this chicken without the Ras El Hanout and it’s still really good.
- 1 whole chicken with skin, preferably organic or free range
- ¼ cup or more harissa paste, homemade or store bought
- 2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout spice mix (optional)
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- sea salt and pepper
- Clean and dry the chicken.
- Smear the chicken with the harissa paste getting under the skin.
- I loosen the skin first, make a few slits with a knife or just poke here and there under the skin on the breast and leg and thigh, and smear the harissa into the slits and all over.
- Pat the skin back in place and rub more paste all over the top and rub some in the cavity too.
- Drizzle olive oil and massage into the chicken.
- Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes (longer is better)
- When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃
- Allow to the chicken to lose the chill from the fridge for about 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle sea salt and pepper over the top.
- Place in a roasting rack or a rack made with crumpled up foil and placed under the chicken in a baking pan/sheet.
- Roast for 45-60 minutes.
- Check the chicken to be golden brown and charred in places, and for the juices to come out clear when pierced.
- Let it rest 10-15 minutes before cutting.
This chicken wasn’t set up for a photo shoot because we, literally, ate it as soon as I put my camera down! They were taken on the dining table with my children waiting impatiently for the chicken to get its photo taken. I couldn’t do much with 4 hungry faces peering impatiently at me.
I hope you’re all having a better start to the week than I am! I would appreciate your prayers and happy thoughts to get me out of this unfortunate circumstance. We have a saying in Islam that states that we don’t know whose prayers get answered but it can be the most random person’s. Thank you in advance and have a wonderful week!