Harissa is an ingredient I am quite fond of. Not only for its intense taste, but because I was introduced to it in a restaurant in Paris and the whole experience was pretty magical. It was my first time enjoying Moroccan couscous. I was with a Parisian friend who ordered the Couscous Royale, a real feast with several types of meat, including lamb and merguez (which I fell in love with at first bite). But what I remember the most was the waiter offering to add some harissa to our plate. He grabbed a ladle of the couscous broth, added this sexy red paste to it, mixed it with a small spoon, and poured it over our serving of couscous. Just a little bit, so I could decide if I wanted more, which obviously I did. When I learned from Ottolenghi that there’s this thing called Rose Harissa, I could not wait to get it and try it. If you think the regular kind is sexy, this one is sexy and she knows it.
ROSE HARISSA CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Simple)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 celery ribs, diced
5 boneless, skin-less chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons rose harissa
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, sliced thin
1 can stewed tomatoes
15 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
1 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
cilantro to taste
Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker or regular large sauce pan. Sautee the celery pieces seasoned with salt and pepper until very fragrant and soft. Add the chicken pieces, let them briefly color on both sides. Add the harissa and the paprika and saute it all together for a minute or so.
Add the tomatoes and the juices, the red bell pepper, and if cooking under pressure, add just about 1/2 cup of water, or enough to cover the meat. Add the chocolate pieces, cover the pan and cook under pressure for 25 minutes. If using a regular pan, add the full cup of water and simmer it all gently for 40 minutes or longer, until the meat is very tender. After 30 minutes, add the pieces of chocolate and mix to dissolve.
When the meat is tender, or the pressure cooking time is elapsed, remove the chicken and, if needed, reduce the sauce and use an immersion blender to make it a bit more smooth. No need to fully blend it, just process until some pieces of tomato and red bell pepper still remain more or less intact. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro and lemon juice right before serving.
Spoon the sauce over the reserved pieces of chicken, serve with white rice, mashed cauliflower, polenta… anything you like.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: When I opened the pressure cooker, I was hit with such intense peppery blast, that I thought dinner was ruined. Thankfully, it was not the case. The sauce turned out with a very nice flavor, hot, but not burning-hot, the rose component just made it all taste complex. We liked it so much that, contrary to what happens most of the time, I had nothing left for my lunch next day. We stopped when all chicken thighs were gone. Pups got nothing, not even a taste. Yeap, that’s how greedy we were.
We had quite a bit of leftover sauce, which I used as the basis for a turkey chili made a couple of evenings later. It would go very well with lamb, perhaps a perfect pairing for that tender lamb I spoke about not too long ago. And now, I am on a mission to find new uses for my sexy Rose Harissa. If only all life’s problems were as hard as this one…
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