There’s a secret smug feeling that I rather like.
It’s the same feeling that I get when I’ve finished wrapping Christmas presents and it’s not even Christmas Eve; it’s the feeling you get when you’ve finished your weekend homework (dim and distant memory alert) and it’s still Friday. But I especially like the secret smug feeling when dinner is prepared, all-set, ready to go … and it’s not even lunchtime. To make this happen, generally I’ve either got to –
- Be up before the sun …. mmmm, BIG thumbs down,
- Have a completely free morning with nothing else that needs doing and nowhere I need to be …. IN MY DREAMS or
- Be preparing a dish for dinner that, not only is easy to prepare in advance, but whose preparation is super speedy …
… and here is that very dish – Harissa Chicken.
Not only is this a quick and easy dinner, it’s also fantastic for preparing ahead. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – it also works brilliantly cooked ahead of time … slice up the cooked chicken when you’re ready to serve and either enjoy it at room temperature or give it some gentle help in the microwave.
The rose harissa is the magic ingredient. It’s fragrant as well as being warm … and it’s warm rather than raging hot. I’ve used the Belazu brand and, you know what? – it’s definitely one of my favourite ingredients.
And the other five ingredients … because there are only 6 … Chicken breasts – buy the best you can afford. Tomatoes – choose the reddest you can find but no need for fancy vine-ripened ones here. Olive oil and a sprinkle of dried oregano, help the flavours and juices blend together while it is cooking. And then the olives … You really will feel the love of the olives in this dish so much more if they contain no stones. So, do you buy olives that are already pitted? I would say no. I’m sure there’s an old Chinese proverb going something like this … “The olives that are sold already pitted are the olives that nobody would buy unless they had conveniently already had the stones removed”. But also, the pitting process does make even good olives lose flavour over time, so stick with unpitted. Do yourself a flavour favour and go for Kalamata olives – you know, the ones that are really more purple than black. They are the slightly squishy ones – the ones that taste so much better.
It’s a ‘medium fuss’ job to de-stone them. They are often soft enough to do a small slit with a knife and then the stone can be popped out. Or, press down on the olive with the flat side of a knife blade and the stone should release much easier.
But, I know, it’s still a bit of a faff – a ‘worth it’ faff nevertheless.
Let’s call this ‘gorgeous food – a tiny, tiny bit of fuss’.
But to make up for it, there’s always that secret smug feeling …
- 6 skinless chicken breasts
- 3 teaspoons Belazu Rose Harissa
- a drizzle of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 250g pack cherry tomatoes
- 200g Kalamata olives, pitted
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 400ºF (gas mark 6).
- Put the chicken in a medium roasting tray and rub the harissa over the top of the breasts. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the oregano.
- Cover with foil and roast for 15 minutes.
- Remove the foil and add the cherry tomatoes and olives to the tray. Roast for 15-20 minutes more or until the tomato skins start to split and the chicken is cooked through. Delicious served with brown rice and a spinach salad - and don't go leaving all the gorgeous juices in the tray ... they make all the difference.