Winner winner chicken dinner. With this super flavorful, incredibly moist chicken you can’t lose. And let me tell you about those potatoes: they’re crispy on top and soak up all the chicken-ey, harissa-ey goodness. It’s like the best of both worlds between potato chips, baked potatoes, and potatoes au gratin. The addition of rose to harissa, a North African red pepper sauce, balances out the spiciness and exotically incorporates our romantic rose theme for this month. This warming, comforting dish is a perfect way to show your honey, friends, family, or just yourself that you love them on a cold winter night. This recipe makes plenty of extra harissa to top the chicken and anything else that could use some zing.
Serves 3-4 people per chicken, or two with plenty of leftovers for a romantic candle-lit dinner. If you have two cast iron skillets (a dutch oven without the lid works as well) this makes a simple yet impressive meal for a dinner party. Just double the chicken and potatoes. Alternatively, treat yourself to this recipe and you’ll be meal-prepping in style.
Harissa Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
1 3½–4-pound whole chicken
2 pounds russet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces (10 to 15 pieces) dried California chiles
4 cups boiling water
¾ cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon rosewater
3 garlic cloves
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with salt, inside and out. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least one hour or refrigerate for at least one day. Allowing the salt to penetrate makes the meat more flavorful and tender.
Stem and seed chiles by removing the stem and tearing them lengthwise. Shake out the seeds and discard. If you have sensitive skin you might want to wear gloves for this. Rinse, place in a heatproof bowl, and cover the chiles with boiling water. Set a plate on top to submerge the peppers and soak for 30 to 60 minutes to rehydrate. Place the cumin, coriander, and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan constantly to ensure even toasting. Grind the spices finely with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Drain the rehydrated peppers, reserving ¼ cup of the water. Place the peppers and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and rosewater to the food processor and blend until smooth. Add the toasted, ground spices and season with salt. Taste and add more salt if necessary; all those flavors should really pop.
Place a rack in upper third of oven and set a 12" cast-iron skillet on rack. Preheat oven to 425°. Thinly slice the potatoes with a mandolin or sharp knife and toss with melted butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 finely minced garlic clove, salt, and black pepper. Pat chicken dry again and cover with harissa. Drizzle olive oil into the hot cast iron skillet and place chicken breast side up. Arrange potatoes around the chicken and put in oven with the legs facing the back of the oven (the oven is hottest in the back, so this helps prevent the breast from drying out). Roast 50-60 minutes, check if it’s done by cutting between the leg and breast, if the juices run clear the bird is done. You can also check with an instant read thermometer, pull the pan out when the breast temperature reaches 155°, it will climb to 165° while it rests. Let chicken rest in skillet for at least 20 minutes and up to 45 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, and makes the meat even juicier. Carve and serve with those deliciously juicy, crisp potatoes, and garnish with extra harissa, cilantro and lime wedges. This goes great with a vinegary, herbaceous salad. Enjoy!
P.S. Always save and freeze the bones and bits for stock. Once you’ve roasted 2-4 chickens, boil leftover bits with carrots, celery and whichever aromatics you choose. Use to up the ante for all your soups, braises, rice dishes, etc.