Ryan Shepard
About Author
May 23, 2024

Harissa Roasted Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon, A Flavorful and Easy Recipe!

In 2016, while I was in culinary school, I had a life-changing culinary experience. One day, our chef instructor brought out a brick-red colored paste and asked us to taste it with some bread and olive oil. As soon as I took that first bite, it was love at first taste. The bold, spicy, and complex flavors of harissa captivated me instantly, and since that day, I've made sure to always have harissa in my kitchen.

What is Harissa?

Harissa is a North African chili paste that originates from Tunisia but is also popular in other regions like Morocco, Algeria, and Libya. It's made from a blend of hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and various spices like cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds. There are different types of harissa, varying in heat level and flavor intensity, depending on the region and the specific recipe used. Some are smoky, some are more herbaceous, and others are fiercely spicy. Regardless of the variation, harissa adds an incredible depth of flavor to any dish.

The Perfect Pairing: Harissa and Chicken Thighs

Harissa pairs perfectly with baked chicken thighs, infusing the meat with its robust, spicy flavor. The richness of the chicken thighs complements the boldness of the harissa, creating a dish that's both flavorful and satisfying. Adding preserved lemon to the mix brings a tangy, salty counterpoint that elevates the dish to a whole new level of deliciousness. The preserved lemon's unique flavor profile adds brightness and complexity, making each bite a delightful experience.

Why This Recipe Works

  1. Flavor Explosion: The combination of spicy harissa and tangy preserved lemon creates a mouthwatering flavor explosion.
  2. Juicy Chicken: Roasting the chicken thighs ensures they stay juicy and tender, with a crispy, flavorful skin.
  3. Simple Preparation: This recipe is straightforward and easy to follow, making it perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions.

Tools You'll Need

  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper or foil
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board

Pro Tips for Cooking Harissa Roasted Chicken Thighs

  1. Dry the Chicken: Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels before seasoning. This helps achieve crispy skin.
  2. Marinate for More Flavor: If you have time, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  3. Check the Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C) for perfectly cooked, juicy chicken.
  4. Use Parchment Paper or Foil: Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper or foil makes cleanup easier and prevents the marinade from burning onto the pan.
  5. Rest the Chicken: Let the roasted chicken thighs rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute and keeps the meat moist.

Side Dish Suggestions

Serve this flavorful harissa, preserved lemon, and garlic roasted chicken thighs with your favorite side dishes such as:

  • Couscous: Light and fluffy couscous is a classic accompaniment that soaks up the delicious juices from the chicken.
  • Rice: A simple side of steamed rice works well to balance the bold flavors of the chicken.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roasted carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini add a healthy and colorful complement to the meal.
  • Flatbread: Warm, soft flatbread is perfect for scooping up any leftover harissa sauce.

Where to Buy Harissa Paste and Preserved Lemon

You can find harissa paste and preserved lemons at well-stocked grocery stores, specialty food stores, or online. Some of my favorite brands include Dea Harissa Hot Sauce and Mina Preserved Lemons. These products are high-quality and packed with authentic flavors.

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