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 OR
- 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.
What do I particularly love about this Harissa Chicken?
Not only is this a quick and easy dinner, but 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.
What is the magic ingredient in this dish?
It's Rose Harissa - a North African chilli paste that contains dried rose petals which softens the heat of the chillies and adds a rich, complex, floral undertone. 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. If you struggle to get Rose Harissa, you can substitute with regular Harissa, but it is worth keeping an eye out for it.
And what are the other 5 ingredients in this Harissa Chicken?
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 - to help the flavours and juices blend together while it is cooking.
- A sprinkle of dried oregano.
- And then the olives ...
Let me get a little bossy about the olives for a moment ...
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 ...Print