A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater: June's Chicken with Harissa (ummm fauxrissa?) and Mint

June 28, 2009 · 10 comments

in chicken/poultry,dairy-free,healthy,nigel slater,quick and easy

You know how I love chicken thighs AND the broiler, so this recipe called out to me the second I saw it. The one thing I wasn’t crazy about was the mint. I’ve said before that I’m not a big mint fan, but I decided to give it another go.  I recently had some (and liked it) in a Thai fried rice, and there have been so many things I thought I disliked that I’ve retried in the past year–most of which I have ended up enjoying–that I hoped to add mint to my list.  And you know what?  I DID enjoy it! It was a perfect complement to the spicy fauxrissa (I’ll get to that in a minute…) and smokiness of the broiler.

I thought for sure my local market would have harissa but it turns out I was SOL.  I’d already thawed the chicken thighs and bought mint, so I really wanted to make this dish.   In a pinch, I decided to sub rocoto, which is also a red pepper paste, and just add a little garlic, cumin & coriander to make it harissa-like.  It worked perfectly. It wasn’t quite as smoky as harissa, but it had the same spice profile.

OK, I know it’s summer now and most of you can grill stuff outside, but can I just say, for the 342nd time, that I love broilers? I mean, seriously. They make such a nice, charred, caramelized outer crust on meats (even ones without skin) and cook food so quickly.  That said, making this dish turned me into a temporary crazy bitch. When I turned on the broiler, it didn’t work.  I tried again, and no dice.  As you know, we were without a functioning oven for 2 months and only recently did it get fixed.  In a panic, since everything was already ready, I put the food in the oven to cook.  In the mean time, I paced around our condo swearing like a sailor and cursing JennAir with a vengeance.  I had cartoon-like steam coming out of my ears. After a little bit of that, I looked into the oven and it looked so icky (I’ve also mentioned before that I don’t do baked chicken) that I decided to turn the broiler on again. Third time’s a charm? It was!

But, I have to admit that I think 99% of this was my fault. I’m going to blame the other 1% on the product design, though. You see, I thought (logically, I assumed) that to broil, the line above the knob would have to be lined up with broil. Wrong. It turns out it’s actually closer to “off” than it is to “broil.” So, the first two times, I basically hadn’t turned the knob far enough. Sigh. Getting used to new appliances is hard, eh?

Chicken with Harissa and Mint

Serves 2
Adapted from
Nigel Slater

4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
2.5 tsp harissa (or, use red pepper paste and see what I did, above)
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh mint, coarsely chopped

Mix together the harissa (or rocoto and spices) and yogurt. Drizzle the olive oil in while continuting to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Rub the mixture into the chicken pieces (at this point, I let them marinate about 30 minutes, but you don’t have to).

Heat your broiler, and place the chicken on a broiler pan. Cook about 4″ from the broiling element for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked through.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 262 / Fat: 13.9g / Saturated fat: 2.3g / Carbs: 4.2g / Protein: 29g

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