Grilling in the summer is difficult when you don’t have a grill. We had a communal one in our fourplex’s backyard, but I haven’t seen it in a while. Maybe I just don’t want to see it. I don’t really love our backyard, though I love our apartment in general; the backyard’s just not a place I want to spend much time. That’s my big realization about grilling: grilling is only fun if you like the environment in which you’re grilling.
So until we have a house with a pool surrounded by citrus trees and male models, I’m staying inside and using my broiler. It’s funny to me how many people don’t know about their broilers. When I interviewed the amazing Kate Berlant on Instagram Live, she said she didn’t even know if her oven had one. People! Your broiler can be your best friend in the kitchen. Let me tell you why.
A broiler replicates the grill in the sense that you’re cooking directly under (as opposed to over) a flame. You ever hear the expression “flame-broiled”? That’s what your broiler’s capable of. It can give your food that char that everyone craves so much in summer. Your oven can’t get your chicken skin crispy and golden by itself, but your broiler can. It can also work magic on ribs, meatballs (I use my broiler instead of frying them in a pan, these days), even desserts.
I got the idea for a honey harissa chicken from the Sababa cookbook, which has a very different recipe that doesn’t involve the broiler. But I liked the idea of mixing harissa and honey together, so I used harissa in a tube that I had in my fridge and combined it with a generous amount of honey, plus some lime juice for acid.
I painted it on to a chicken that I had spatchcocked and cooked in a cast-iron skillet at 425, just until the internal temperature reached 160 (about 30 minutes). While the chicken roasted, I tossed a bunch of beautiful string beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper and inserted them into the oven until they were charred and soft all over (about 20 minutes). Then I broiled that chicken until it looked like something you’d see in a commercial.
It’s a simple, summery dinner that makes you feel like you’re outside, even if you’re not outside. And in this heat, who wants to be outside? Well: I suppose people who have pools, citrus trees, and male models. Until that happens, make this.
Harissa Honey Chicken with Blistered String Beans
An easy summer dinner with lots of big flavors.
Servings 2 people, with leftovers
- 1 3 – 4 pound chicken, preferably organic
- Salt and pepper
- Grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 2 big handfuls haricots verts (aka: large string beans), stemmed
- Olive oil
- 2 Tbs harissa Store bought is fine, but feel free to make your own!
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 lime, juiced
Preheat the oven to 425.
Cut the backbone out of your chicken using kitchen shears (this is called spatchcocking). Discard the bone or save it for stock (you can freeze it); and flatten the chicken breast with the palm of your hand. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with lots of salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast iron skillet on the stove until very hot. Add a splash of grapeseed oil (a few tablespoons) and lay the chicken in breast-side down, being sure to unfold the chicken so as much surface area touches the bottom of the pan as possible. Using a lid, press down on the chicken to really help it brown. Do this for a few minutes, then check the chicken. If it's golden brown in spots, use tongs to turn the chicken over and place in the oven. Cook for at least 30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160 (it'll keep cooking when you broil it).
Meanwhile, toss your string beans with enough olive oil to coat the beans (I use about 1/4 cup), lots of salt, and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet, spread out, and cook in that same oven until the beans are caramelized in spots, about 20 minutes, shaking the pan every so often.
When the chicken's cooked through, remove it from the oven and mix together the harissa, honey, and lime juice. Paint on to the chicken, being sure to get it everywhere, using up the whole mixture.
Place the chicken under the broiler, a few inches away, and turn onto high. Broil the chicken for several minutes, monitoring the whole time, until the chicken is charred in spots and the honey starts to caramelize. Remove from the oven, put the chicken on a cutting board, and let it rest for ten minutes before cutting it up. Serve with the string beans.
The Ultimate Weeknight Chicken and Broccoli Dinner (Amateur Gourmet)
One-Pan Harissa Chicken (David Lebovitz)
Harissa Chicken Thighs with Shallots (Colu Henry, New York Times)