Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas

pan-roasted chickenWhenever I need to do something unpleasant that I know is for the best, whether it's for my health, my relationships, my career, whatever, it usually turns out to be not nearly as unpleasant as I'd built up in my head. Sometimes, it's not unpleasant at all. In those cases, the worst part of the whole things turns out to be simply committing myself to doing whatever it is, and writing it down as a clear intention. And boy, do I hate that part! Writing something down, even if it's only for my own eyes, is super-scary because once it's out there, I must do it or risk feeling like a loser.

So, when I recently formulated my plan for 2014, complete with quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals, one of the things I wrote down is that I will strive to eat better. What a drag! It almost killed to me commit to this goal because I get so much joy from food. Over the last year, some of our meals were a little too heavy on the refined flour and sugar in the form of homemade breads, biscuits, cakes, savory fillings stuffed into homemade pastry, and pasta dishes. And, I loved every bite of every one.

I believe in moderation in all aspects of my life. While we're not jumping on the wheat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, paleo wagon - we could never give up the occasional charred tomato pizza with Mr. President's homemade crust - I have committed that, by the end of March, I will be trying at least two new recipes each week that are centered around fish, pastured meats, good fats, vegetables, and wheat-free grains. What gets measured gets done!

Every year at this time, my favorite food magazine Bon Appetit puts out an issue dedicated to "cleaning up" after the holiday excess, and there are mouth-watering recipes to inspire healthy eating. Since I'm also trying to work through the stockpile in my freezer, I decided to start with this pan-roasted chicken recipe, modifying it slightly. The original recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I only had two bone-in, skin-on pastured chicken breasts in the freezer.  You can use whatever chicken pieces you'd like (about 3 pounds total), but please do stick with bone-in and skin-on for this.

Additionally, the recipe requires two cans of chickpeas, but because I'm a bean snob, I prefer to cook mine from dry. I used 1/2 pound of dried Rancho Gordo chickpeas and cooked them prior to starting this recipe. Harissa is a (sometimes) spicy, Tunisian chili paste that's available in better grocery stores, just look in the ethnic foods section.

Guess what? This healthy, one-pot, pan-roasted chicken dinner was a delight! If I can find recipes this good twice a week, my goal will be easy. You can look for more recipes like this from me going forward, but only if they're sufficiently fabulous.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 Tbsp. olive oil or rice bran oil (I used rice bran oil)

8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or 3 pounds of chicken pieces you prefer

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained or 3 cups cooked from dry

1/4 cup harissa paste

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Lemon wedges for serving

Harissa paste can be spicy or mild. Taste yours first and then adjust the amount based on your preference.

Step one:

pan-roasted chicken1 Tbsp. olive oil or rice bran oil (I used rice bran oil)

8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or 3 pounds of chicken pieces you prefer

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches if necessary, brown the chicken, turning every few minutes to brown all sides. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and drain off all but 2 Tbsp. pan drippings.

Step two:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained or 3 cups cooked from dry

1/4 cup harissa paste

1/2 cup chicken broth

pan-roasted chickenAdd onion and garlic to the pan and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute until it starts to take on a darker color. Now, stir in chickpeas, harissa, and broth and bring it all to a simmer for about 5 minutes to blend flavors. Remove pan from heat and nestle your chicken pieces among the chickpeas and transfer pan to the oven. Roast until chicken just reaches 160 degrees internally or about 20 minutes.  I use a remote thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat - you may have to test more than one piece if you have a mix of large and small pieces.

Step three:

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Lemon wedges for serving

Remove pan from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for a few minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

 

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