Pan-roasted Chicken with Harissa Lentils
For the longest time I wasn’t a fan of spicy foods, I couldn’t handle the heat. Pepperoni was even too spicy for me, but I have some a long way since then. Now I enjoy the depth a spice mixture like harissa adds to a dish. The spicy North African condiment livens up the lentils without overpowering the other flavors. If you aren’t a big fan of spicy foods add a little harissa at a time.
1 cup green lentils
3 ½ cups chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, about 5 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons harissa*, I use Mina Harissa
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh strainer for about 30 seconds. Gently shake to drain. Add the lentils and 2 ½ cups of the chicken stock to a medium saucepot over medium heat. Simmer the lentils, stirring occasionally, until all the stock has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter, and allow the butter to melt. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken thighs on all sides, about 5 minutes per side, and remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté in the remaining chicken fat oil mixture, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and harissa and cook for a minute. Stir in the diced tomatoes; turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the sugar to adjust the acidity. Stir in the lentils and the remaining chicken stock then add the chicken back to the pan. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until the chicken thighs are completely cooked through.
Serve warm with brown rice.
*Note: harissa is a spicy North African paste and can be found at specialty grocery stores, most Whole Foods or online here.