One of our favourite ways to use harissa is in this chicken dish of mine. Rubbing the chicken flesh underneath the skin with the harissa allows the spice flavour to penetrate the meat and - unlike slashing it as you would with chicken tikka - leaves the skin intact to stop the meat from drying out. In this picture you can just see the red colour of the harissa peeping through the skin of the raw chicken.
After cooking, the skin becomes crisp and brown, with the delicious spices tucked away underneath:
Here's how to make it:
one 1.5 kg chicken
2 tsp Harissa paste
2 tbs olive oil
1 large carrot
1 orange-fleshed sweet potato
½ butternut squash
1 large onion
1 tin chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
cous cous prepared as directed on pack to serve
Set oven at 190ºC, 170 fan, gas mark 5.
Loosen the neck flap of the chicken, ease the skin away from the breast , spread the Harissa paste over the breast and press the skin back in place. Put chicken in a large baking dish. Halve one of the lemons and squeeze over the chicken, putting the empty shells inside the cavity. Cut carrot, squash and sweet potato into 3 cm cubes and the onion into 8 wedges. Place prepared vegetables around chicken with the other lemon, cut into 8 wedges. Drizzle the olive oil over everything and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1¼ hours or until chicken is cooked, stirring vegetables occasionally.
Remove chicken from roasting tin, stand for 10 minutes and carve. Meanwhile remove the lemon wedges from the vegetables and spoon off as much fat as possible leaving the juices behind. Tip the tomatoes into the baking dish, mixing well with a wooden spoon and crushing any large lumps of vegetables into the sauce. Return to the oven to heat through while resting and carving the chicken.
Serve the chicken and vegetables with cous cous