Cast-Iron Harissa Chicken

One of things I’ve had in mind when cooking lunch or dinner for me and Alex is using up my overflowing pantry. Every time I open the cabinet some obscure spice that I can’t deal to part with comes flying at my face. The other day I came across a jar of Harissa, a North African hot chili paste, gifted from Alon Shaya, chef of Shaya in New Orleans. I headed to the store and picked up a few things to churn out a quick and easy lunch for myself, that I could then pack for Alex to take to work the next day. Chicken, cremini mushrooms and okra are the stars, keeping this spicy one-pan, cast-iron meal as simple as it is delicious.

Okra can be a polarizing vegetable. Too often, people associate it with slimy green mush, which is so far from its true potential. The trick is you either have to cook okra very little, or cook the shit out of it. By tossing it in the pan right before getting thrown in the oven, the okra cooks just enough so it’s tender, but still keeps a pleasant crispness to pair with the tender mushrooms and chicken.

This whole recipe cooks in less than 25 minutes, so with all this extra time on hand, I’d suggest making some rice to serve on the side. That way you can soak up the spicy, lemony, garlicky sauce that forms at the bottom of the pan. Alternatively, you can transfer the sauce to a glass and drink it or simply rub it all over your face.

Cast-Iron Harissa Chicken

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus resting time

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes, plus resting time


1 1/2 pounds (2 medium) chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated

3 tablespoons Harissa

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Kosher salt, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil 

10 ounces cremini mushrooms

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 thyme sprigs

12 ounces okra, trimmed and halved on a bias

Cilantro leaves, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the Harissa, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. 
  2. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. 
  3. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt. 
  4. Stir in the okra and season with salt. Place the chicken pieces over the vegetables and put the whole pan in the oven. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165, 10-12 minutes more.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.