The first time I tasted harissa, I was blown away by the smoky depth of flavor. I knew I wanted to keep it in my refrigerator, so I started buying the store-bought version to season pretty much everything I was eating. The only problem was that a jar of harissa didn’t last very long in my kitchen; so, I turned to make my own version at home. I added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes to my recipe to add some bulk to the sauce.
The smokiness of the harissa sauce really adds a lot of flavor to chicken that is being prepared on the grill. I love to grill harissa chicken in the summer. I’m instantly transported to memories of holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day and large cookouts with family and friends.
Reprinted with permission from Flavors of Africa by Evi Aki, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018. Available on Amazon.
2 large jarred or fresh roasted red bell peppers
5 cloves garlic
1 (15-oz [420-g]) can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons (16 g) smoked paprika
2 medium jalapeño chiles
1 small habanero chile
6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil
ground cumin, to taste
ground coriander, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tablespoon (8 g) garlic powder
1 tablespoon (8 g) paprika
½ tablespoon (4 g) ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons (8 g) salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 pounds (2.3 kg) chicken drumsticks
10 ounces (300 ml) Harissa Sauce
- Combine the bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, smoked paprika, jalapeños, habanero, oil, cumin, coriander and
crushed red pepper flakes in a food processor. Process until the mixture is uniform. Transfer the sauce to jars and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Preheat the grill to 400°F (204°C).
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.
- Place the drumsticks and spice mixture in a large resealable bag.
- Shake the bag, ensuring that each piece of chicken is coated with the spices.
- Place the drumsticks directly on the grill and flip them every 5 to 7 minutes.
- Once the drumsticks start to brown, move them to the side of the grill, away from the direct heat. When the internal temperature of the drumsticks reaches 190°F (88°C), baste the chicken with the harissa sauce and cook for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the drumsticks from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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