The Beer Lover’s Table: Harissa Roast Chicken and Partizan Lemon & Thyme Saison

Everyone needs to have a good roast chicken recipe in their back pocket. It’s one of the single most soulful, satisfying things you can make; it’s quick enough not to be a faff, but worthy of special occasions. Its aroma is the distilled essence of hospitality. You’re safe, and the world is a good place, when there’s a chicken in the oven.

Though simple is often best when it comes to roast chicken, I also like mine with a bit of spice. Like harissa, a chilli paste by way of North Africa. Made with roasted chillies, spices, and – in this case – rose petals, it’s a little bit smoky, quite hot, and deliciously complex. Harissa is the star of this marinade, alongside zingy lemon, garlic, and honey.

There are certain beers that go well with food, and then there are those that taste even better with dinner on the side. For me, Partizan’s Lemon & Thyme Saison falls squarely into the latter category. On its own, this sessionable 3.8 percenter is light of body and easy-drinking, and has a good deal of lemony sharpness; its flavour profile already suggests culinary potential. But in the company of this chicken, its sharpness is traded in for balance and roundness, its light body made a refreshing counterpart, its lemon flavour perfectly matched.

As soon as it gets cool enough to turn your oven on, then, make this your plan for dinner – it’s a perfect, seasonal bridge of a recipe.

Harissa Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (around 1.7 kilos)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1.5 lemons
1.5 tsp sea salt
3 tsp honey
1 tsp ground coriander
3.5 tbs rose harissa paste
2 tbs olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

First, spatchcock or butterfly your chicken. If you haven’t used this method before, it takes only a couple of minutes to prep, and it leads to a much better bird: by pressing the chicken flat, it cooks more evenly – no more over-cooked breasts and underdone thighs here – and much more quickly (a dinner party advantage).

To spatchcock your bird, take a very sharp knife or a pair of sturdy kitchen shears. Remove the backbone by snipping or slicing along both ends of the spine (save this bit and make a very delicious homemade stock). Once the spine has been removed, place the bird, breast-side up, in front of you, and press on its breastbone with your hands. You should hear a small snap, and the chicken should flatten. Here’s an instructional video, should you want a visual guide.

Place the bird on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined tray. To make your harissa marinade, whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Use two-thirds of this marinade to coat both sides of your bird, working some underneath the skin, and reserve the last third to use as a serving sauce. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least three to four hours, or up to a day.

When your chicken is ready to go, heat your oven to 200 degrees C. Cook the bird for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through so it cooks evenly (you may want to check for browning at around 25 minutes – if it’s looking dark, you can tent loosely with foil while waiting for it to finish cooking). After it’s out of the oven, stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh and, if the juices run clear, you’re golden.

When the chicken is ready, quarter it and drizzle over the remaining harissa sauce. I also served mine with a bowl of Israeli couscous salad on the side.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And pick up some delicious Partizan Lemon & Thyme Saison via our online shop...