Rosy Harissa Chicken
Although we’re more accustomed to seeing them in vases than on our plates, roses are often used in Middle Eastern cooking, from fragrant rose water in desserts to dried rose petals in spice blends. When my favorite boutique spice house, New York Shuk, developed their Rosey Harissa Spice, a dry version of harissa flecked with rose petals, it inspired me to develop this chicken recipe. I immediately envisioned a beautifully roasted bird showered with a flurry of rose petals in dusty hues of garnet and fuschia; the recipe nearly wrote itself! And while you could use paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked) instead of the specialty harissa, you won’t have a good excuse to sprinkle your chicken with rose petals—which is more than half the fun.This chicken becomes tender and juicy after a bath in a kefir marinade redolent with harissa paste, lemon, and garlic. It’s easy to prepare the day before you want to make it—you just have to think ahead a little. When I’m having people over, or honestly, when I’m just working a little late on a weeknight, I like to have dinner half-done before I even turn on the oven.Since the heat level of harissa pastes can vary quite widely, it’s a good idea to taste as you go when adding the additional harissa to the pan sauce at the end. But I recommend going a little hotter than you think. The juicy but mild chicken is best when dipped in the spicy jus thickened and enriched by the softened lemon, shallot, and garlic that are cooked alongside the chicken. It adds up to a perfect balance of heat, brightness, and comforting, slow-cooked flavor.For a version using a whole chicken, see my new book, Open Kitchen. For either version, serve with crusty bread or with plenty of Israeli couscous to sop up all the delicious sauce.