There is a scene in one of my favorite films, the Dreamers, which embodies my idea of an ideal dinner party. In the film, which takes place in Paris during the 1960s, one of the characters drops by his friends’ pied-à-terre unannounced as the characters scramble to get dinner ready. After a simple, single dish meal, the family and guest sit around, casually eating bread and cheese, peeling oranges, drinking wine, (and in typical French fashion) smoking Gauloises and discussing philosophy. (There is also a scene later in the movie where they basically go dumpster-diving and eat rotten bananas. That is not my ideal dinner party).
I like the idea of finding one-dish dinner menus (especially roasted chicken) that are simple, do not take a ton of time to make, and are easily shared without a ton of cleanup (more time for Descartes and getting lung cancer). I found it in this recipe from the February issue of Bon Appetit, which pairs nicely with my new Lodge cast-iron pan obsession.
The other great thing about this recipe is that it uses ingredients most people have around their kitchen…with the exception of harissa. Harissa is a spicy Middle Eastern/North African spice blend (think cumin, chili pepper, cayenne, etc.) that is sold either in powder or paste form. The paste form was surprisingly hard to come by in Philadelphia (without an intimidating trip into a weird South Philly neighborhood) but Williams Sonoma to the rescue with powdered harissa. It’s absolutely delicious if you like spiciness and someone told me it’s really good on top of eggs.
I rounded out the chicken dish in true Dreamers’ fashion with a bottle of crisp French white wine and a baguette from Di Bruno Bros. Side note – if you are a relatively young female in Philadelphia and carry a baguette down six blocks of Center City, be prepared for an onslaught of comments from absolutely charming men. My favorite comment I got (and the most PG-rated) was “Can I have a piece? And not of the bread.” Modern romance.
~ Recipe Adjustments~
I am completely grossed out by raw chicken. Even in its most benign skinless, boneless form, I get freaked out by trimming fat (with my eyes closed which you can imagine is incredibly safe) and the weird pink color. I would have been completely traumatized by using chicken thighs with the skin left on (ew) and the bone still in (I don’t need reminding that it was once a living animal) as Bon Appetit suggests. If you follow this recipe exactly, I admire your bravery.
I used 2 tablespoons of Harissa powder in lieu of 4 tablespoons of Harissa paste. It was the perfect level of spiciness.
I used 1 cup of chicken broth instead of ½ cup because the chicken tends to get dry in the oven.
I used only one can of chickpeas because no one needs that many chickpeas. I don’t care how much protein they contain.