Moroccan Harissa-spiced Roast Chicken

We made this chicken recipe along with the root vegetable recipe listed in this blog last night. Family thought the flavors were great, especially the dried fruit stuffing. The spice mix necessary for harissa, a North African mixture, is listed separately. Try “Spice Mix” under the category finder for the harissa recipe. This chicken recipe comes from The Spice Ingredient Cookbook by Sallie Morris and Lesley Mackley, page 156. We’ll try to have a picture of our version of this recipe with the fruit stuffing and the root vegetables up on the blog soon.

The other important planning step is soaking the dried fruit; we soaked ours for about six hours.

3 to  3½  lb. whole chicken

2-4 tbsp garlic and spice oil (made by adding 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp ground cumin to 2-3 tbsp olive oil)

a few bay leaves

2 tsp clear honey

2 tsp tomato paste

4 tbsp lemon juice

2/3 cup chicken stock

1/2 -1 tsp harissa (see separate spice mixture recipe)

For the Stuffing:

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cumin

1 & 1/3 cups dried fruit, soaked for several hours or overnight in water to cover

¼ cup blanched almonds, finely chopped

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Make the stuffing. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes until soft. Add the ground cinnamon and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

2. Drain the dried fruit, chop it roughly and add to the stuffing with the almonds. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes more. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Stuff the neck of the chicken with the fruit mixture, reserving  any excess. Brush the garlic and spice oil over the chicken. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, tuck in the bay leaves and roast for 1 to 1 ½  hours, basting occasionally with the juices, until cooked.

4. Transfer the chicken to a carving board. Pour off any excess fat from the roasting pan. Stir the honey, tomato paste, lemon juice, chicken stock and harissa into the juices in the roasting pan. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, reheat any excess stuffing. Carve the chicken, pour the sauce into a small bowl and serve with the stuffing and chicken.

Serves 4-5.

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