Harissa Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes

I’ve discovered a new love: harissa!  I kept seeing it mentioned but didn’t even know what to look for, then I stumbled across a jar of it at one of our local Middle Eastern markets. It’s a Middle Eastern chili paste and I suspect the spice levels can vary a bit.  Then I bought Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark and one of the recipes that caught my eye was this Harissa Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes. Oh my gosh! This was soooo good!  It’s got a good kick to it but it’s not overpoweringly spicy.  The harissa gets rubbed on the chicken and potatoes, then put on a sheet pan along and baked, with leeks being added halfway through.   A little garlic yogurt is spooned on top along with some fresh herbs after the chicken and vegetables are cooked through. I used cilantro but you could also use mint, parsley or dill or a combination of several for different flavors.

Harissa Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes

Harissa Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes

I shared the leftovers with my boyfriend, who also thought it was fantastic. He didn’t use the yogurt sauce but I liked the coolness of the yogurt with the heat from the harissa.

Harissa Chicken with Leeks, Potatoes and Yogurt

  • 1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons harissa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil (plus more perhaps)
  • 2 leeks, split lengthwise and then thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro. dill, mint)
  • fresh lemon juice

Combine the chicken and the potatoes in a large bowl. Season with 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, tossing as you season. Combine the harissa, cumin and 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl and stir together, then pour this over the chicken and potatoes, stirring to coat. Let this stand for 30 minutes or so.

Combine the leeks, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil in a bowl and stir to coat.

Heat the oven to 425.

Put the chicken and potatoes on a sheet pan with a rim. Make sure they're not crowded or things won't crisp up. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Use a spatula to stir the chicken and potatoes around a little. If there is a lot of fat from the chicken at this point, drain off some so your potatoes can get crispy, then add the sliced leeks. Continue baking until the chicken is done, another 25-30 minutes.

Stir together the yogurt, grated garlic clove and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

When the chicken and vegetables are done, spoon the yogurt over the top, scatter the herbs over the top and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top, then squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it all and serve.

This cookbook is a great one so far. Each recipe is supposed to be a full dinner, with maybe a salad or bread or a simple vegetable side. The recipes are organized by main ingredient, including chicken, beef, pork and lamb, fish and seafood, beans, tofu, pasta dishes and grain bowls ,soups, pizzas and main dish salads. So far I’ve made quite a variety of dishes, including fried eggs with tamarind sauce, lemony pasta with chickpeas, a pork and black bean chili and several chicken dishes.

Some of the dishes have one unusual ingredient, like the harissa or the preserved lemons in one of the pasta dishes I made. Others just use familiar things in new ways (smashed white beans with roast asparagus on toast).

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I have a few quibbles with it. The portion sizes seem to vary a bit and sometimes the picture includes ingredients not listed in the recipe. But the recipes are good! And that counts for more than anything in my book. I’ve taken some pretty pictures of food that tasted bleh. So if you’re looking for mostly simple recipes that use ingredients in new ways sometimes, recipes that will help you get good food on the table relatively quickly and easily, check it out.