First Class Plate: Moroccan Harissa Chicken and Chickpeas

I want to go everywhere and I like to eat, so it only stands to reason that I am fascinated by cuisine du monde. A good way of getting there without traveling is by visiting a restaurant that featuresPlated Harissa food from whatever locale piques your interest. Thankfully I live in Chicago where its rich restaurant tradition makes it the perfect place to experiment with just about anything. If you can eat it, you’ll probably find it here. I try new places often and I keep a running list in my head of all the new restos I want to try. It’s hard too because there’s a handful or more of new places opening every damned week! And I love it.

But if you’re adventurous like I am, you can try to recreate an international dish at home. You’ll not only gain the experience, but you’ll be able to personalize the dish to your liking which is what all home cooks do the world over.

As the Queen of Impulse Buyers, my pantry is more likely to be stocked with smoked paprika and garam masala than ketchup or milk. Whipping up an impromptu international meal is no biggie for me. If you have more self control than I do, you’ll probably need to run to your nearest market to pick up a few things because today we will journey to Morocco!

Morocco is at the top of my places to visit, so naturally I had some of the ingredients to create my take on a Moroccan Harissa recipe. Harissa is Tunisian in origin, but is now a part of Moroccan cuisine. This condiment combines some of my favorite things – peppers, mo’ peppers, cumin and garlic.

Prep HarissaThis was my first foray into Moroccan cooking so I decided to go with a store-bought version, Mina Harissa. I found it at Mecca aka Whole Foods. Here we go…

Ingredients

  • Three boneless, skinless and organic chicken thighs
  • Fage yogurt. About a half cup (I use 2%)
  • Salt (To taste. I used smoked salt. It gives e’rythang such a lovely flavor.)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Garlic powder, 1 tsp.
  • Onion powder, 1 tsp.
  • Cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. ( I brings the heat.)
  • A couple tablespoons of Mina Harissa (Spicy, of course.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, season the chicken with the salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder and onion powder. Place the yogurt, Harissa and seasoned chicken in a large Ziploc bag. Make sure the chicken thighs are completely covered by yogurt. Remove the air from the bag as much as possible. Seal the bag and place it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. I left mine in for around an hour and a half.

Chicken Harissa

Mo’ Ingredients

  • Cumin, 1 tsp.
  • One 16 oz. can of organic chickpeas (Next time I will use two cans. Not enough peas for me. You be the judge.)
  • Five garlic cloves (I obviously have a thing with garlic.)
  • One lemon
  • Two large shallots
  • Olive oil, 1tbsp
  • Coconut oil, 1 tbsp
  • One tomato
  • A half cup of the Mina Harissa

Harissa sans ChickenWhile the chicken is marinating, thinly slice the garlic and coarsely chop the shallots. Seed the tomato and then throw it in your Vitamix or food processor until it’s a slightly chunky puree. Cut lemon into wedges. Set it all aside.After oven Harissa

In a large, dry frying pan (I prefer cast iron) on medium heat, sprinkle in the cumin and sauté for two or three minutes to release the flavor. Add coconut and olive oils. While the coconut oil is melting, remove the chicken thighs from the fridge, brown on both sides and then remove from the pan.

Sauté the garlic slices in the same pan. Cook for three minutes and then add shallots. When the shallots begin to soften, add the tomato, Harissa, chickpeas and chicken broth. Add a little more salt and pepper to taste and then nestle the chicken into the pan. Cook on top of the stove for three to five minutes, squeeze half of the lemon over the top and then pop the entire skillet into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
Voila! First class ticket to Morocco! This dish was absodelish. Try it yourself and let me know what you think.

 

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