Saturday, June 30, 2012

One Pot Wonder: Harissa chicken with olives and mint yoghurt

My mother is the queen of one pot wonders – give her a bag of groceries and she can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes flat. These skills are more attributed to the fact that cooking is a chore for her (yes I often wonder if I'm adopted because of this), however, my dish-free dinners are rather attributed to the fact that I despise washing up. No need to raise your rubber glove-clad hand if you agree – I know I'm not alone. This recipe is one of my favourites because it's big on flavour and low on effort: a chopping board, knife, casserole dish and small bowl is all that will land up in your sink. If you've never cooked with harissa before, you're in for a treat. It's a condiment used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Chillies, oil, garlic, coriander and cumin are ground into a paste and used to season meat such as lamb, chicken, beef, or tossed through roast vegetables and couscous. Quite a few supermarkets stock it in the spice section but if you can't find it, I've included a substitute below so you can give it a try. And if you're wonder woman with a wok or turn into superman with a saucepan in your hand then post your one pot winners in the comment box below – sharing is afterall caring. Happy cooking!

(serves 4-6)

6-8 chicken pieces
1 head of garlic, halved
1 cup black olives
¼ cup tomato paste
1T harissa paste
1T brown sugar
½ cup chicken stock
salt and black pepper
250g baby tomatoes, halved
4-5 sprigs thyme
1 cup plain yoghurt
zest of 1 lemon
2T chopped parsley
1T chopped mint

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the chicken pieces in a casserole or baking dish and add the garlic, olives, tomato and harissa paste, sugar, chicken stock and salt and pepper. Toss to combine with half the tomatoes. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and place in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid/foil, add the rest of the tomatoes, thyme and roast until golden and sticky. For the yoghurt, combine the rest of the ingredients and season well. Serve the chicken with the minted yoghurt on the side.

Homemade harissa

10-12 dried red chillies
1/2t salt
2T olive oil
1t ground corinader
1t ground caraway seeds
1/2t cumin

Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Remove the stems and seeds and combine in a food processor or pestle and mortar with the garlic, salt and olive oil. Add the rest of the spices to form a smooth paste. Store in an airtight container and drizzle the surface with olive oil – this will seal it and keep it fresh. The harissa paste will last up to a month in the fridge and is best when rested for 12 hours before using.