Bringing harissa into Dinah Shore’s Basted Roasted Florida Chicken

Harissa Chicken

While not all Gourmandistan readers may be familiar with Dinah Shore, both Michelle and Steve remember watching her 1970s television shows. The Big Band-era star, 1938 graduate of Michelle’s alma mater and 1950s singer of “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” often hosted cooking segments and was a fairly adventurous cook for the era.

Gourmandistan does not own a copy of Someone’s in the Kitchen With Dinah, Shore’s first cookbook, but we do often refer to our 1983 copy of The Dinah Shore Cookbook, especially her recipe for Basted Roasted Florida Chicken. Shore credited “a marvelous hotel restaurant called Chalet Suzanne” (which may be yours for the asking!), claiming the secret is “plenty of basting sauce” and “six whole cloves or more of garlic” for six servings of chicken. (Gourmandistan, under Steve’s garlic-loving guidance, has always used at least that amount, if not an entire head, even when we’re making the dish for just the two of us.)


Over our many years of making this recipe we’ve reduced the butter, replaced “small broiling hens, quartered” with bone-in breasts and recently started adding harissa, a North African chile-based condiment. Michelle made Gourmandistan’s version of harissa by combining aspects of Ottolenghi’s, Moro’s and others’ recipes, ending up with a cumin-enhanced chile mix that has begun to appear more frequently at our table. (It’s great on lamb chops.) The stuff proved to be a lovely complement to the gently garlicky gravy that makes Dinah’s chicken dinner such a winner, bringing a bit of heat and some delightful complexity to an old Gourmandistan favorite. As Dinah might have sung: “It’s Magic.”


  • 2 large or 4 small chicken breast halves, with skin and on the bone
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 TB butter
  • 2 generous TB flour
  • 6 or more garlic cloves, peeled, large cloves cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 c. chicken stock (a little more if making 4 breast halves)
  • 3-4 TB harissa (store-bought, or see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Place chicken skin side up in a shallow roasting pan or gratin dish. The pan should be large enough to hold the chicken without crowding, with not more than a half inch or so clearance on each side. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, stirring constantly with a whisk, to make a roux. When flour is fully incorporated, add garlic cloves. Stir with a wooden spoon until roux becomes light brown in color. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add chicken stock, whisking constantly, until blended and the consistency of a cream soup. It is ok if the sauce boils. Add harissa. (Taste for amount to add. The heat varies among recipes and store-bought brands.)

Pour the sauce (with the garlic) over the chicken. Place in hot oven.

Baste the chicken with a spoon frequently, every 5 or 8 minutes or so. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until chicken is tender.

Serve chicken with couscous or rice. And some bread to sop up the delicious sauce.


  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 5 small dried red chiles (such as de árbols)
  • 10-12 oz. sweet red peppers
  • 4+ TB olive oil
  • 1 TB caraway seeds
  • 1 TB cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 1/2 TB tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Salt

Pour boiling water over dried chiles and soak until soft. Remove from water, discard seeds and stems and place flesh in bowl of food processor.

Cut fresh peppers in half, removing seeds and stems. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up. Drizzle olive oil over. Place under broiler and cook until well-charred. Remove from oven and place foil or plastic wrap over. When cooled, remove charred skin. Add flesh to the food processor bowl.

Toast caraway and cumin seeds in a small skillet. Mash with a mortar and pestle. Add to food processor bowl.

Fry onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet. When onion is softened, add garlic. Cook until onion is beginning to caramelize. Add to food processor bowl.

Process ingredients in food processor until smooth. Add lemon juice, tomato paste, paprika and 2 or more tablespoons of olive oil and process further. Add salt to taste.

Store in a jar in the refrigerator, covering with olive oil if desired.



  1. Dinah Shore zeitgeist. I was on an afternoon Andy Kaufman kick, and was just watching an old You Tube clip a few days ago of Andy (as Tony Clifton) singing on and cooking with Dinah on her show. This sounds tasty.

  2. This chicken sounds so good! I love the note: serves 2-4″ , as if you had my husband and me in mind – at our house, I would translate this to “serves a hungry 2, but may not be enough for you”. To our defense, we´re 21/2 eaters, our son included, but not counting our toothless baby daughter 😉

    • It’s always hard to know what serving amount to put in that little box! If the truth be told, usually we make this with just 2 little breast halves but nearly the whole amount of sauce. So there’s plenty of sauce to sop up with a good baguette. But others may not be so decadent. 😉

  3. Now there are two things I never expected to encounter in the same paragraph – Dina Shore and harissa! The recipe sounds great, although being an incorrigible thigh guy, I just might have to tweak in that direction. Ken

    • It’s a bit of a juxtaposition, isn’t it? But, you know, Dinah really could cook. And her cookbooks (my mother has some others that we don’t have here) are full of pretty adventurous things for the time period. She clearly loved Asian food. I wouldn’t make those recipes today, but I’m impressed that she was doing them way back when.

  4. Just as I was pondering making my own harissa, here you go and give me a perfect recipe for it! Going to be making this sometime this week. Also “Someone’s in the Kitchen With Dinah” — what an excellent name for her cookbook. Actually made me laugh a bit.

    • Great minds! I’ve made a couple of different ones. Surprisingly, I found the Jerusalem recipe sort of bland. We probably didn’t properly credit all the sources I found inspiration from in the post, but I was pleased when I saw recipes using some dried (and readily available to Americans) Mexican-type peppers. They gave an earthy and hotter note that I really liked. Sometimes I need help getting away from my “oh gosh, they don’t have ancho chiles in Tunisia … should I really be using this?” mentality. It’s silly. Let me know how you mix it up!

  5. Pingback: Spicing Up Meatballs with Homemade Harissa | Attempts in Domesticity

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