This Honey Glazed Harissa Grilled Chicken has just the right kiss of heat and the honey sweetens this up for a twist on the regular BBQ grilled chicken.
Here we are at August already. How did that happen and who took my Summer? Heck where did the year go? In keeping the grill busy this season, I thought maybe something spiced up would do the trick the other evening. This chicken sits overnight in harissa, a North African, namely Tunisian, spicy paste that kicks up the flavor factor.
Harissa is a North African hot chili paste or sauce commonly eaten in Tunisia and Morocco whose main ingredients are chili peppers, tomatoes and Paprika. This fiery red sauce is served as a condiment with many Tunisian dishes, particularly tagines. Though most closely associated with Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria it is a standard ingredient of North African cuisine.
I’ve been fortunate to travel to South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and twice to my beloved Egypt, but the other North African countries like Morocco and Tunisia are on the radar plan to discover.
Recipes for harissa vary according to the household and region. Variations can include the addition of cumin, red peppers, garlic, coriander, and lemon juice. This is my take on it.
Besides soaked, dried red chiles the harissa usually has toasted, ground seeds, kosher salt, garlic, a nice orange zest strip, vinegar, rose water and oil. At least mine does. You can get the recipe here if you want to make it, or buy from the market.
I’m seeing it more and more these days in the condiment section or any Middle Eastern market should carry it.
I use just the chicken drumsticks in this one because there was a great deal at the market.
I placed them all in a Ziploc plastic bag, added the harissa paste and some honey and let them marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
When it came time to grill these up I thought some beautiful grilled tomatoes and lemons would be a nice addition and hen served, squeezed the grilled lemon on top of the harissa grilled chicken. I like to cook the darker meat of the chicken to 180°F instead of the required 165°F to ensure they are tender drumsticks. I want to have the meat fall off the bone tender when I bite into it and the skin to be all rendered and crispy.
That little bit of acid from the lemon is perfect and believe me, this is not too hot. Grilling seems to mellow the heat in the harissa, but the flavor is wonderful. The honey gives a nice glaze and added sweetness. It’s tangy, spicy and smokey. A perfect mixture of spices to transport you to the flavors of Morocco and Tunisia. Enjoy!
- 2 lbs chicken drumsticks
- 1 cup harissa paste
- 1/4 cup honey + 1 tbsp separated
- 4 lemons
- 1 cup baby tomatoes
- cilantro for garnish
- In a small bowl mix the harissa paste, honey and the juice from 1 lemon.
- Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Place in a plastic bag and add the harissa honey mixture and seal. Refrigerate overnight. (See Note 1)
- Start grill and heat to 350°F.
- Grill for about 12 minutes on each side. Using tongs carefully lift the drumsticks off the grill to ensure that the skin is not sticking to the grill. (See Note 2)
- In the last 3 minutes of grilling add the other three lemons cut in half to grill along with the tomatoes.
- Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes then brush with remaining tablespoon of honey.
- Serve immediately with extra harissa paste on the side with chopped cilantro for garnish.
1. I marinate the chicken overnight for maximum flavor penetration, but feel free to coat and grill, basting with more if needed while grilling. The reason I marinate overnight is to keep the grill closed while the chicken is grilling. That keeps an even temperature.
2. I think cooking the drumsticks to the internal temperature of 180°F works well with the dark meat of the chicken where the required internal temperature is usually 165°F.