Harissa, a hot sauce or paste used in North African cuisine made from chili peppers, paprika, and olive oil, is the anchor of this dish. Used sparingly for those adverse to heat, it provides a warm earthy flavor tempered by the fresh herbs, veggies, and lime used in this recipe. This dish serves those who like to crank the heat as well - a little more harissa lends a pleasantly slow burn. If serving a mix of folks, prepare the dish with less of this exotic sauce, and serve as a condiment for others.
Time: 1 hour
4 boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
5 to 6 shallots, ends trimmed, peeled and quartered
1/2 bell pepper (pref. red or orange), julienned
3/4 - 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-3 tablespoons harissa (1 for the heat adverse, 3 if you like it hot)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups chicken stock, approximately
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
Flaky salt, for serving
Season chicken thighs well with salt and pepper. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook undisturbed until nicely browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Still at medium-low heat, add shallots and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
Stir in harissa and cinnamon, and add back in the chicken and any residual juices. Pour in enough of the stock to come up to the chicken about halfway, and bring to a simmer. Partly cover and allow the chicken to finish cooking through, about 15 minutes more.
Toss the chicken in the sauce until it's nicely coated. Plate and top with the cilantro and the scallions. Serve, spooning braising liquid on top and with lime wedges on the side. Finish with flaky salt.
SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve alongside sliced, roasted red tomatoes tossed in olive oil, cumin, parsley, and flaky salt.