Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Harissa and Yogurt-Marinated Chicken

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Harissa, a north African chile paste, is a condiment that I like having around. It's a little less forward than Asian chile pastes, and doesn't announce itself with quite as much fire. Harissa is little more mellow, which allows it to be used for marinating without fear of totally overpowering a dish.

Which is exactly its role in this brilliant dinner from Nigel Slater, when it's whisked with thick yogurt and olive oil to make a creamy, spicy marinade. Yogurt is a remarkably effective tenderizer, and when cooked, it causes the meat to brown beautifully while also ensuring it stays tender and moist. And it works: this was some of the juiciest chicken I've eaten in a long time. The dish is finished with a scatter of mint leaves, which wilt and gives an amazing fragrance.

I had enough time to let the chicken marinate for an hour or so, but it's not entirely necessary. Give it 10 minutes and it should work its magic.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

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