Harissa Chicken & Rice

9 May 2024 Dairy Free Gluten Free
This is the perfect midweek one dish wonder. The rice cooks with the chicken and they both become crispy and delicious together in the pan. Please make double and eat this all week long. The leftovers make a delicious sandwich or salad, or you can use the meat and rice in a hearty soup or as a one bowl comfort dish for a simple dinner.

This recipe is actually a variation of a theme, or what some might call an updated version of the original Roast Chicken on a Bed of Spelt. The beauty of mastering one method of cooking an ingredient (grains, proteins or vegetables) is that you can shake things up with different versions and flavours of the same dish and actually make something completely new every time. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

A pan or pot that goes from hob to oven with a tight fitting lid (or one that you can cover easily with foil) is your cooking vessel of choice here.  I use a 30cm sauté pan for absolutely everything (no, I am not sponsored) and in my humble opinion it is a kitchen essential. You can also make this in a deeper dutch oven.

You can use any grain here – short grain brown rice, freekeh, spelt, faro, quinoa, barley.  They all cook the same way, simply replace the rice with the same volume of alternative grain.  The rule here is one part grain, 2 parts water (or stock).

The same amount of marinade is used for 8 chicken thighs (with skin but with or without bone) or 1 spatchcocked chicken. I will put the timings for each in the method below.

I love to serve this with some tahini and a fresh crunchy salad.

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 8 chicken thighs, with skin and either with pin bone or without or a spatchcock chicken
  • 6 garlic cloves 
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 -2 tbsp harissa paste – I like rose harissa – the amount will depend on the spice
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the Rice

  • 2 banana shallots or 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cardamom pods (optional but I love them here)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g (1 cup) basmati rice
  • 500g (2 cups) vegetable or chicken stock or water
  • 1 tsp salt if using water instead of stock

Optional Extras (as seen in the YouTube video)

  • 400g tinned chickpeas, drained of their liquid
  • 250 cavolo nero, centre stems removed and sliced into ribbons
  • 2 roasted romesco peppers or a jar of roasted red peppers cut into bitesize pieces.

Start by marinading the chicken.  This can be done an hour ahead and upto 24 hours ahead.  Whenever you decide to marinade your chicken, remember to take it out of the fridge an hour before you want to cook it. 

Crush the garlic with the salt, either on a chopping board or in a mortar and pestle.  If you have confit garlic to hand, use it here!

Add the remaining ingredients to the garlic to make a paste and rub all over the chicken. Cover and let everything marinade together.

About 20 minutes before you want to cook your dish, preheat the oven to 190C and get started on the rice.

Slice your onions in half through the root and then into thin half moon slices.  Place the pan you are going to use for the dish on a medium heat and pour in the olive oil.  Add the sliced onions and gently cook until they lightly caramelise.  You don’t want them to get to dark but they should be soft with some colour. 

While the onions are cooking rinse your rice or grain well in a sieve under running water.  Add to the onions and stir around until they are coated in the onions and the oil.  Sprinkle over the cardamom pods if using. Stir through any of the additional ingredients (chickpeas, chard, peppers) and turn off the heat. Pour over the stock or water, making sure all the grains are completely submerged.  Nestle in the chicken pieces or spatchcocked chicken and all their marinade. Cover tightly with a lid or with a tented piece of foil (I like to put a piece of damp parchment paper underneath the foil to stop any sticking).  

Roast for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and roast another 20 minutes uncovered to crisp up the skin of the chicken and the rice.  Do not baste or stir the grains.  

If you are using boneless thighs, roast for 30 minutes before removing the lid and then another 20 minutes uncovered.

If you are using a spatchcocked chicken roast for 45 minutes covered and then 20-25 minutes uncovered.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a good few minutes, covered, before serving. 

Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on info@buildingfeasts.com