Don’t you just love how versatile chicken is? There are endless possibilities for flavour combinations (exhibit A, B, C and D), and this Harissa and citrus version is one of my current favourites. Something about the fiery heat of harissa paired with sweetness is just magic to me, as previously demonstrated in my Harissa and Maple Roast Carrots. I don’t think this trend will be ending anytime soon.
Confession: I used to be afraid of dealing with whole chickens. The idea of having to handle the whole bird, break it down and cook it properly used to be quite daunting (and a little gross) to me. Thankfully, culinary school completely obliterated that squeamishness by forcing me to deal with fun things such as breaking down gigantic half lamb carcasses, cleaning and prepping kilos of slimy brains and tongue, having slippery squid ink sacks explode all over me, pin-boning and filleting countless fish and deboning whole chickens. What a ride it was. I think it just goes to show that sometimes, the best way to get over your qualms and anxieties is to completely immerse yourself in unfamiliar and slightly scary territory.
Isn’t that just what life is all about?
Although you can roast this chicken whole, I find that cutting it in half or spatchcocking it (removing the backbone and flattening it but without separating the two halves) reduces the cooking time drastically, as well as allows for more even browning of the skin, which is why I’ve done that here.
To help you out, here are a couple of videos to show you just how simple it is to halve or spatchcock (ignore the skewering) a chicken yourself. If, however, you are still uncomfortable with breaking it down yourself, you can always ask your butcher to do it for you.
I love serving it with this Pearl Couscous and Citrus salad, just to echo the citrus flavours in the chicken. This Roast Winter Veg Salad with Blood Orange would work beautifully as well, but feel free to serve with whatever your heart desires!
- • 1 whole orange, sliced into ½ cm rounds crosswise
- • 1 whole lemon, sliced into ½ cm rounds crosswise
- • 1 whole chicken (about 1.5kg), halved or spatchcocked*
- FOR THE MARINADE:
- • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- • finely grated zest of 1 orange
- • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- • 1½ tbsp. fresh orange juice
- • 2 tbsp. olive oil
- • 1½ - 2 tbsp. harissa paste
- • 1 tbsp. honey/maple syrup
- • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- • ½ tsp. ground cumin
- • 1 tsp. salt
- Grease a suitable baking dish with olive oil. Arrange the orange and lemon slices in one layer on the bottom of the dish. Place the chicken, skin-side-up, on top of the lemon & orange slices. Set aside.
- In a small bowl or jug, whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade. Pour it all over the chicken in the pan. Cover and leave it to marinate in the fridge for half an hour up to overnight.
- Half an hour before you are ready to cook the chicken, take it out of the fridge to rest and preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (390F).
- Roast the chicken in the oven for 30-35 minutes until cooked through and skin is golden. If at 25 minutes the skin is still not browning, turn on the broiler (upper grill in the oven) for the final 10 minutes or so. If your broiler is separate from your oven, finish cooking the chicken normally in the oven, then transfer to your preheated broiler just for 5-10 minutes or until skin is brown. Serve with Pearl Couscous & Citrus salad (recipe link below), or salad/vegetables of choice.
Recipe For Pearl Couscous & Citrus Salad here.