Google Translate

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Harissa Roast Chicken

I think roast chicken was the first meal that I learned how to cook after having mastered toaster waffles and instant oatmeal.  Once my siblings and I got old enough to be trusted with the oven, my mom would leave a roasting chicken at home for us to cook so that we could have a family dinner ready when she and my dad got home from work.  This was possible because a basic roast chicken recipe has only 2 essential steps (#1 sprinkle with salt and pepper, #2 Insert into 450F oven until done) and that's the kind of process with which 11 year olds can be trusted.

Unfortunately, what's simple enough for a 4th grader has proved too much for a hard working 31 year old and so this particular roast chicken recipe was developed by accident.  We had friends coming to dinner and due to a complex series of events of which I have little recollection and will vehemently deny if questioned, our chicken was frozen.  Standing in the kitchen, staring at a bird more suited to military ballistics than culinary delight I decided to fall back on a technique I usually reserve for turkeys; brining!  My hope was that by immersing the chicken in salted water it would both thaw and season it in one quick and handy step and it worked.  The turmeric and cumin added flavour and a wild colour to the chicken and the harissa gave it some great punch.

1 roasting chicken (if there is any secret to good roast chicken it's to buy a very good one.  We get organic chickens from Rowe Farms and they're always delicious)
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1/2 lemon
Zest from your lemon half
1/2 cooking onion
1 tbsp harissa spice blend

1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp salt
water to cover

Mix the brine ingredients together, stirring well.  Add in the chicken and brine for 1 hour to over night or until thawed if you're a fool like me. It should come out a wild yellow colour.

Mix the harissa, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl and divide in half.  Combine one half with the diced garlic and the olive oil and set the other half aside.

Loosen the skin of the chicken breast by vigorously rubbing back and forth like you were giving it a deep tissue massage ... which I suppose you are.  Starting at the neck, insert a boning knife under the massaged skin and use it to create a cavity between the skin and the breasts.  Use your fingers to stuff the un-oiled harissa mixture under the skin and massage it around to spread it evenly.

Take the onion and lemon and insert them into the body cavity of the chicken.  As it cooks these will release moisture and acid and will result in a more moist chicken.

Rub the oiled harissa mix all over the outside of the chicken and insert in a 450F oven for until juices run clear or a meat thermometer reads 180F (usually ~1.3 hours).  The high roasting temperature is important to keeping the chicken moist.  Roast it too low and long and the result will be like the Sahara.

Serve with roast veggies, olives and cous cous.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. This week's Food on Friday is all about rubs and marinades as a way of preparing food for cooking. So it would be great if you linked this in. This is the link . Have a good week.

    Ps I haven't seen your follow back yet. I guess you have probably been busy. Do you follow via GFC or some other way?