This one skillet harissa chicken is a super delicious North African dish. Learn how to make harissa from scratch to impress all your friends and fam!
And read to get back in my own kitchen! School officially ended for the summer last week, which has freed up my schedule tremendously! Now I’m just working at the restaurant full time, which feels like a breeze compared to what my schedule has been with work and school the past couple of months!
My cooking game has really diversified the past couple of months.
In school I have been perfecting my cooking techniques like braising and stewing. How to get perfect grill marks and grill a piece of meat or vegetable to perfection. How to make a deliciously roasted veg in the oven and how to saute to near perfection. But not only has my technique expanded, my cooking pallet has too!
I ended the school year in my global cuisine class, where we cooked traditional foods from different countries around the world for the entire 9 days. We were using spices and ingredients that I had never even heard of and it introduced me to cuisines that I had never dabbled with in the kitchen before.
All that to say- prepare yourself for some big time recipes coming atcha- this one skillet harissa chicken for starters.
The real superstar of this one skillet harissa chicken is of course, the harissa.
Harissa is traditionally a North African paste that is used to top grilled meats or vegetables. This is obviously a chicken recipe, but you could very easily sub the chicken for a fish like salmon or cod, or even use it to top a vegetable, like roasted asparagus or eggplant! The good news is this recipe makes about 1 pint of harissa, so you will have leftovers to experiment with 🙂
I have used harissa before, but never made it myself. I prefer making it from scratch, because the harissa I have found at grocery stores tend to be way too spicy for my liking. This way, you can control the spice level and get it exactly how you like it.
How to make the harissa sauce:
The most important step with the harissa is charring your bell peppers and toasting your caraway seeds and cooking your garlic.
If you have a gas burner on your stovetop, take a pair of thongs, grab the bell pepper and place it right on top of the flame. I know that might sound crazy to some of you, but fear not, this is a totally fair play move in the kitchen! If you don’t feel comfortable messing with the flame, or you have an electric stovetop at home like myself, the oven will get the job done just as well! Place it on broil and then pop your bell peppers in the oven straight on the oven rack, rotating occasionally,
Leave them on whichever source of heat you end up using until they are completely charred. Then place the bell peppers in a big bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. This is going to trap moisture in the bowl and make it ten times easier to peel the bell peppers once they cool down.
While they are cooling down, take a small skillet and put it on medium heat with your caraway seeds. All you are doing is getting them to a point where you are able to smell the seeds so that the flavor will be more apparent in the dish. After about 30 seconds you should be good to go.
And finally, the garlic. Before peeling the garlic, put the 2 cloves on the same skillet and cover it with a lid for about 10 minutes. Your garlic peel will char, and that is exactly what we are after. After 10 minutes, remove the garlic, remove the charred peel and you will be left with a sweet and soft garlic clove.
After those 3 things, the rest is a breeze. Simply add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until it is pureed! Store the harissa sauce in your fridge in a covered container for up to a week. And be sure to use the extra sauce on other grilled meats and veggies throughout the week!
To make the chicken:
My only tips for the chicken are to be sure to season both sides with salt and pepper (as you should any time you are cooking meat) and to most definitely use a cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets get super hot and hold their heat better than a stainless steel frying pan (which are better for other cooking techniques), allowing you to get a beautiful sear on your chicken because it gets so hot! The key to a good sear is first heating up your pan, then heating up your oil and THEN adding your chicken. You should hear a sizzle when you place your chicken on the pan (always place presentation side down first). Don’t flip the chicken until you have a crispy sear on one side (took about 4 minutes for me). Getting a nice sear is going to not only give you a great texture contrast, but it is also going to add another layer of flavor to your overall dish! Don’t fear the sear!
For even more delicious chicken recipes:
- Herb Butter Crusted Chicken
- One Pan Chicken Broccoli and Potatoes (gluten and dairy free)
- Creamy Tomato Chicken
MAKE SURE TO TAG ME @HEYEMILYANN ON INSTAGRAM OR COMMENT BELOW IF YOU MAKE THIS ONE SKILLET HARISSA CHICKEN. TO PIN THIS RECIPE AND SAVE IT FOR LATER, YOU CAN USE THE BUTTON ON THE RECIPE CARD, THE BUTTONS BELOW THIS POST, OR ON ANY OF THE PHOTOS ABOVE. HAPPY COOKING!
Indulge your North African senses with this one skillet harissa chicken
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 c canola oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
To prepare the harissa sauce:
Stir caraway seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a food processor.
Cook unpeeled garlic in the same skillet, covered, for 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool. Peel garlic and place in food processor.
Char bell peppers over gas flame, or in an oven at 450 until blackened on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds and place in the food processor.
Add cumin, oil, sugar, cayenne, paprika, crushed red pepper and lemon juice to food processor. Puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the chicken:
Generously season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Heat up cast iron skillet over medium heat, add oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, top side down. Cook for about 4 minutes or until crispy. Flip chicken and cook for 4 more minutes or until crispy.
Preheat broiled on oven.
Generously cover the top of the chicken thighs in harissa sauce. Place in broiled broil for 8 minutes.
Serve with extra harissa.
Can use 2 red bell peppers instead of 1 red, 1 orange.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Broil
- Cuisine: North African
Keywords: harissa, chicken thighs, bell pepper, north african cuisine