Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Peppers


The yogurt marinade makes this chicken especially tender and juicy, while the harissa stains it brick-red and adds tongue-tingling spice. Every manufacturer’s harissa paste is a little different, but a typical recipe for this Tunisian condiment includes dried hot red peppers, garlic, olive oil, and possibly caraway and cumin. I like the Moulins Mahjoub brand. Depending on how fiery your harissa is, you may want to increase or reduce the amount you use. Taste and adjust the marinade before adding the raw chicken.

 I’ve adapted this recipe from one given to me by Ed Blonz, a clinical nutritionist and syndicated columnist, who makes it when his book club comes for dinner. Ed roasts the chicken on a bed of chickpeas and onions. I like it with sweet peppers underneath. The vegetables absorb the spicy drippings from the chicken and need no further seasoning.

 If your menu includes several other dishes, figure 1 chicken thigh per person. Otherwise, you may want to allow 2 thighs per person. The roasted chicken benefits from a brief rest to allow the juices to settle.From Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner by Janet Fletcher (Ten Speed Press).

  • 1/2 cup plain drained yogurt or Greek-style yogurt (not nonfat)
  • 1/2 cup coarse harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on), trimmed of excess skin
  • 2 large red bell peppers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 2 large gold or yellow bell peppers, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, harissa, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Add the chicken and use a rubber spatula to coat the chicken all over with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

 Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.

 Toss the sliced peppers and onions together. Season with salt and make a bed of the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. With a rubber spatula, redistribute the marinade so that it evenly covers both sides of the chicken, then place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Bake until the chicken is well browned on top and the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. With tongs, toss the vegetables to coat them evenly with the drippings from the chicken, then place them on the platter with the chicken. Serve immediately.

 Serves 6