Weekly Winner: Not Your Average Tuesday Night Chicken Dinner

glazed chickenI think chicken breasts get a bad wrap.  Yes, the can be bland and boring but that is not their fault!  It’s the fault of whoever cooks them!  Done right, they can be an easy, nutritious, and downright tasty go-to dinner pick.  Treat them right and they will reward you with a delectable, low-fat, protein-rich meal.  Because they are such a blank canvas, they take well to aggressive seasoning.  And this sweet-spicy combination is the perfect example.

Glazed Chicken Breasts with Currant-Pistachio Couscous, comes from Cook’s Country Magazine.  It brings the heat with harissa, but tempers it nicely with the apricot preserves.  It’s a super easy, uniquely different one-pan dinner that I’ll be making frequently this spring.

Glazed Chicken Breasts with Currant-Pistachio Couscous

Serves 4

2 Tbsp apricot preserves

1 Tbsp harissa

5 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup dried currants

1 tsp grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1-1/2 tsp salt, divided

4 (6 to 8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

1-1/2 cups water

1-1/4 cups couscous

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped.


  1. Combine apricot preserves, harissa and 1 tablespoon oil in bowl.  Transfer one tablespoon harissa mixture to second bowl and stir in currants, lemon zest and juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Cook chicken until golden brown and meat registers 160 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to cutting board, brush all over with harissa-apricot mixture (without currants), and tent with foil.
  3. Bring water to boil in now-empty skillet over high heat.  Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in pistachios and harissa-currant mixture.  Slice chicken 1/2 inch thick and serve over couscous.

Weekly Winner:  Spectacular, Slightly-Spicy, Super Sloppy Salmon Sandwich

I was going to name this blog “Hey look!  I made a Muppet!” Seriously, this picture reminds me of some strange new Muppet character.  Can’t you just imagine it singing?? No? Oh well, maybe it’s just me. But this burger did in fact speak to me….it said “Dang, I’m tasty”.  There are a lot of elements to this Salmon Burger with Harissa Mayonnaise, but nothing is difficult.  The hardest thing was keeping the burger together while eating it.  It is a messy thing.  A very delicious messy thing.

This Muppet of a salmon burger comes from Food & Wine Magazine.  The only change I made to the recipe was that we didn’t grill these.  I couldn’t see the point of putting a skillet on the grill to cook them when I could just as easily cook them in the skillet on the stove top.  So that’s what I did. You do what speaks to you.

Salmon Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise

Serves 6


Cucumber Relish

1 English cucumber—halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Harissa Mayo

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons harissa

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt


Salmon Burgers

5 scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1 1/2 pounds skinless center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen for 30 minutes

1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 buns, split and toasted

Lettuce and tomato slices, for serving


MAKE THE CUCUMBER RELISH In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

MAKE THE HARISSA MAYO In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

MAKE THE SALMON BURGERS In a food processor, pulse the scallions and bell peppers until finely chopped; transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the salmon in the food processor until finely chopped but with some bigger chunks remaining. Add the salmon to the bowl with the scallions and peppers and fold in the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and 1/3 cup of the harissa mayo. Using lightly oiled hands, shape the salmon into six 3/4-inch-thick patties. Transfer to a lightly oiled plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Light a grill. Set a large cast-iron skillet on the grill and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 2 tablespoons of the olive 
oil. Add 3 of the salmon burgers to the skillet; cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil and salmon burgers.

Spread some of the harissa mayo on the buns. Top with 
the salmon burgers, cucumber relish, lettuce and tomato slices and serve.

Weekly Winner:  Hip, Hip, Harissa!

 Last night’s dinner was not just my Weekly Winner — this was easily the best thing I’ve made in the past six months!    The amazing thing about that statement is that this dish did not contain a bit of bacon, a portion of pork, or an ounce of cheese (sorry, I could not think of a word beginning with “ch” to describe a smidgen). Imagine that — chicken and vegetables won out over any pasta, pork or gooey casserole I’ve made in half a year!

This amazing dish was Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas and it comes from Sunset Magazine. Besides being crazy good, and amazingly healthy…it’s a one-pot wonder!

Because you marinade the chicken in a mixture of yogurt and harissa, it stays incredibly moist and tender.  I can see why the chicken turns out so tasty.  What is truly incredible about this dish is how delectable the vegetables are!  There is absolutely nothing on them but some salt and pepper.  Roasting the chicken on top imparts a great flavor.  This is truly a remarkable dish.  Please make it!

Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas


1/2 cup plain whole-milk greek-style yogurt

1/3 cup coarse harissa

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tsp. kosher or sea salt


6 large bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2 lbs. total)

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half-moons

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal about 1/4 in. thick


1. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, harissa, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, and several grinds of pepper. Add chicken; turn to coat. Chill, covered, 4 to 8 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425° with a rack set in upper third. In a bowl, combine chickpeas, onion, and carrots. Season lightly with salt and toss to blend. Make a bed of the vegetables in a 9- by 13-in. baking dish. With a rubber spatula, redistribute marinade so it evenly covers both sides of chicken. Set chicken on vegetables, skin side up. Bake until chicken is deeply browned, about 45 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to a plate. Stir vegetables and add a splash of water if they look dry. Bake until carrots are tender, 10 minutes longer.