I'm spending some family time in France this month. At the end of this week, I'm going to be cooking for my sister's family while Aria gets to spend some time with her cousins. This is the chicken recipe I'm planning to prepare for our dinner meal. The chicken is flavored with preserved lemons, dried apricots, fennel and harissa. The process is much the same as for my tandoori chicken recipe, but with North African flavors. There is a large North African community in France, and as a child I enjoyed many similar wonderful dishes. I've learned a lot about the flavors from the region and have savored many spectacular dishes from its culture.
The dish incorporates lots of sweet flavors, as is common in North African cuisine. I'll serve this on a bed of semolina with a fennel salad. I hope they'll like it!
Servings: 6 servings
3 pounds chicken legs, skinned
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or regular salt)
10 preserved lemons
1½ tablespoons harissa paste
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, slightly toasted and ground
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried mint
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, freshly cracked
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
4 dried apricots, chopped
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ bunch cilantro
In a mortar and pestle or a mini blender, grind the peppercorns. Add 2 preserved lemons, dried apricots, coriander and fennel seeds, dried mint, harissa paste and 3 tablespoons butter. Mix until well combined.
Clean the chicken thoroughly. Ensure that all the skin is removed. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Mix the garlic, harissa paste and baking powder; be sure they're well incorporated. Place the chicken legs on a large tray. Wearing gloves, spread the mixture all over the meat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. You can marinate the chicken up to 2 nights.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes ahead of time to bring it back to room temperature before placing in the oven.
Place the chicken on a baking pan. Drizzle with a tablespoon of melted butter, then sprinkle with a little salt. Cover with a sheet of aluminum. Seal the edges against the pan.
Roast for 45 min. Remove the foil. Increase the temperature to 400°F and roast for about 8 more minutes to dry the top.
Remove the chicken from the oven. Loosely cover with foil. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
A thermometer should register 165°F in the thickest part of the leg or the juice should run clear when you prick the meat with a fork.
Decorate with the remaining preserved lemons.