Susan Spungen is a name you might not recognize, although she’s been everywhere. She published her 3rd book, Open Kitchen, in 2020. It’s a cookbook of “inspired food for casual gatherings.” That’s exactly what I enjoy!
So, if you aren’t aware of who Ms. Spungen is, here is Amazon’s summary of her accomplishments:
Susan Spungen is a cook, food stylist, recipe developer, and cookbook author. She was the Founding Food Editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia from its inception until 2003. She was the Culinary Consultant and Food Stylist on the feature films Julie & Julia, It’s Complicated, and Eat, Pray, Love. She is the author of Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook, What’s a Hostess to Do?, and Strawberries (A Short Stack Edition) and co-author of the best-selling Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook.
The recipes in this cookbook are good. I bookmarked 15, which is a lot for me. They’re definitely inspired, and not fussy or over-the-top. The recipe I chose to make first is Rosey Harissa Chicken, which is a whole chicken marinated overnight in kefir and harissa. Then the chicken is roasted, and sprinkled with Rosey Harissa. After carving the chicken, you throw rose petals over the top!
There are many ways to buy harissa, both in paste form and powdered. You can also make harissa easily yourself.
Below are ground harissa, and the recommended brand of rosey harissa, which contains rose petals!
Rosey Harissa Chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 – 4-5 pound chicken
3/4 cup kefir
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons harissa, plus more to taste
2 large or 4 small shallots, cut in half with skin on
1 head of garlic
3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons New York Shuk-brand Rosey Harissa
Dried edible rose petals, optional
Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of the salt and the pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a wide, shallow work bowl and season it inside and out with the mixture. Separate the skin from the breast.
In a separate bowl, combine the kefir, lemon juice, grated garlic, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, they thyme, and plain harissa. Place the chicken in a 1-gallon plastic bag. Pour the mixture over the chicken and use a rubber spatula to help coat the chicken all over, inside and out, with the mixture.
Push some of the marinade under the skin. Squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Scatter the shallots in a small roasting pan or other heavy 9 x 13″ pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess coating drip off, leaving a thin coating, and put it in the pan. Cut off the top third of the garlic head. Put the large part face down in the pan and the small part in the cavity. Put the lemon half cut=side down in the pan. Sprinkle the thyme sprigs on top. Add 1/4 cup water to the pan.
Roast the chicken for 45 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle the chicken with the Rosey Harissa and start basting with whatever juices have collected in the pan and in the cavity.
Roast, basting every 15 minutes or so and adding 1/4 cup water if the pan looks dry, until the leg feels very loose when jiggled, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. (I only did 1 hour and 30 minutes, for fear of overcooking.) The idea is to let it dry a little so the flavors and juices caramelize but do not burn. Always add 1/4 cup water before it starts to burn.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board to rest. Squeeze the lemon and garlic into the pan juices and mash the shallots with a fork. Strain the juices through a mesh sieve, pressing hard on the solids to extract all the juice.
Spoon off some of the grease, if needed. Whisk in extra harissa if you want extra heat.
Pour the jus on a platter. Carve the chicken and arrange it on the platter to soak up the sauce but maintain crispy skin.
As you can see I put the delicious jus in a small bowl. It definitely needed to be de-greased.
Crush the rose petals over the top of the chicken, if using.
I enjoyed dipping the chicken in the jus.
So, this was a fun recipe. I love harissa, and the kefir bath worked similarly to buttermilk. The basting was fun, but it’s really only for the skin. The chicken, not surprisingly, was on the dry side. But mostly I really didn’t enjoy eating rose petals. So I won’t be making this chicken again unless I cook it like I would normally roast a chicken. And omit the rose petals!
But it was all a great experience.