Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 27, 2022

© Charity Burggraaf

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Chicken with harissa-honey glaze

A spice blend from North Africa for your favorite roasted chicken

A simple roasted chicken is enhanced when you add a great spice glaze. The robust flavours and the smoky heat of the harissa are well balanced by the honey. You can also try using berbere, besar or za’atar instead. If you want to substitute Chinese five-spice, be sure to add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamarind paste to the mix.

For the glaze
¼ c. (60 ml) coarsely ground harissa (recipe follows)
3 tbsp. (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. (30 ml) honey
2 tbsp. (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. (10 ml) lemon zest
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) turmeric (optional)

For the chicken
1 (2- to 3-pound/1- to 1.5-kg) chicken
1 lemon, halved
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetables
¾ lb. (375 g) fingerling or baby potatoes, halved lengthwise
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
1 sweet yellow onion, halved and cut into 1⁄2-inch (1.25-cm) slices
2 tbsp. (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) sea salt

To make the glaze, combine the harissa, olive oil, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest and turmeric in a small bowl.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).

Remove the bag of organs from the chicken cavity, along with any excess fat or stray pinfeathers. Rinse the chicken inside and out, then pat dry. Place the lemon halves inside the chicken. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips under the breasts. Rub the chicken with the salt and pepper then with the glaze (work it under the skin for extra flavour).

Place the chicken in a 12-inch (30-cm) cast-iron skillet.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, carrots and onion with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange around the base of the chicken.

Bake the chicken for 30 minutes, baste with its own juices and bake 30 minutes more. If the chicken is getting too much colour, cover with foil, removing it for the last 5 minutes of cooking. It's done when the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160ºF (70ºC).

Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle with the sea salt. Loosely cover with foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the twine, slice the meat and drizzle over more glaze. Serve with the roasted vegetables. Makes 4 servings.


This extraordinary spice blend comes from North Africa and is similar to “chili powder” used in North American cuisine, but it has more complexity and depth of flavour. Harissa is a combination of paprika, dried chilies and other spices, and ours is blended to impart mild heat and rich accents. Try this blend in all your favourite dishes calling for chili powder and you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Turned into a paste, harissa can be used as a condiment, in sauces and glazes. It can be used on everything from the lightest white fish to the boldest beef brisket by varying the proportions according to the intensity of flavour desired. It’s also a delicious surprise on spiced nuts, deviled eggs or sprinkled on a casserole.

1 tbsp. (15 ml) caraway seed
2 tsp. (10 ml) coriander seed
1 tsp. (5 ml) cumin seed
2 tbsp. (30 ml) guajillo chili flakes
2 tsp. (10 ml) chopped fresh garlic
2 tsp. (10 ml) smoked paprika
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. (5 ml) pequin chilies or African cayenne
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon

In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the caraway, coriander and cumin until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Combine with the remaining ingredients and store in an airtight container. Grind just before use. Makes ½ cup (125 ml).

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