In this grilled chicken recipe, the humble drumsticks are dressed in a Moroccan-inspired garlic and harissa marinade. Spicy. Tangy. Simply addictive!
I am a frequent wanderer. Somewhat of a nomad. Not by choice.
My my mind travels often, from the familiar places I have lived or visited recently, to places exotic and mysterious. Destinations that I may only encounter in the pages of books or travel magazines. The pictures so vivid and filled with life, they jump off the page at me. And thanks to the gift of human imagination, my brain takes me beyond the vibrant colors–to texture, smell and even taste.
Whenever I physically travel to a new place, or simply daydream about it (as I have been about Morocco lately), my mind always goes to food. And I find myself equally fascinated with new foods as I am with foods familiar and universal.
Is there anything so universal as chicken cooked on an open flame?
In today’s grilled chicken drumsticks recipe, I decided to give the familiar chicken drumsticks a Moroccan twist. I used harissa paste, a popular Moroccan chili paste, as the base for the marinade. I added more garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and a few of my favorite spices, sumac, thyme and ground nutmeg.
What exactly is harissa?
I’ve heard harissa described as the ketchup of North Africa. In a way it is, because harissa is as ubiquitously found in parts of North Africa like Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya, as ketchup is found here in the United States. And in some countries, harissa is considered a condiment to accompany “fast foods” like eggs and tuna sandwiches.
But believe me, harissa is not like ketchup. Harissa is highly complex in flavor. There are several recipes for harissa depending on what part of North Africa you visit. But at its core, harissa paste combines a variety of hot peppers with olive oil and garlic, and spices like coriander, and caraway seeds.
Where to find harissa paste in the United States
You can find harrissa paste at specialty food stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even World Market. Amazon carries a variety; here is a list of harissa options!
What to serve with these grilled chicken drumsticks
This recipe for grilled chicken drumsticks with garlic harissa marinade is quite simple. But the intensity of flavor is unmatched.
For a large party, I like to serve these drumsticks with grilled vegetables and an easy mezze party platter like this one; you can buy most of the platter items already prepared. Or try one of these simple sides: fattoush salad; kidney bean and cilantro salad; Israeli couscous salad; roasted red pepper hummus; or traditional creamy hummus.
Happy Labor Day weekend!
Step-by-Step for these grilled chicken drumsticks
(Scroll down for the print-friendly recipe)
Pat the chicken drumsticks dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Now apply the garlic-harissa marinade to the chicken drumsticks, particularly underneath the skin. Do not discard the remaining marinade.
Place the chicken drumsticks with the sliced onions in a large jumbo kitchen bag with a seal. Pour the extra marinade on top. Seal the bag shut and massage the contents so that the chicken is well covered in the garlic-harissa marinade.
Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
When ready, heat an outdoor grill to medium. Grill the drumsticks on medium heat, covered, for 35-40 minutes or until well done. As they grill, turn the drumsticks every 7-8 minutes or so.
Assemble the chicken drumsticks on a platter and enjoy with your favorite sides (be sure to check out the suggestions I mentioned earlier)
- To make the garlic-harissa marinade, in a food processor, blend the chopped garlic, harissa paste, nutmeg, sumac, thyme, lime juice and olive oil.
- Pat the chicken drumsticks dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Now apply the garlic-harissa marinade to the chicken drumsticks, particularly underneath the skin. Do not discard the remaining marinade.
- Place the chicken drumsticks with the sliced onions in a large jumbo kitchen bag with a seal. Pour the extra marinade on top. Seal the bag shut and massage the contents so that the chicken is well covered in the garlic-harissa marinade.
- Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
- When ready, heat an outdoor grill to medium. Grill the drumsticks on medium heat, covered, for 35-40 minutes or until well done. As they grill, turn the drumsticks every 7-8 minutes.
- Serve with an easy mezze platter like this one. Or sides like fattoush salad; kidney bean and cilantro salad; roasted red pepper hummus.
- If you choose to substitute Harissa with a different chili paste, select one that does not have sweet undertones. You want to go spicy-tangy for this recipe. And of course, if you prefer a less spicy drumstick, go ahead and reduce the amount of Harissa or chili paste to your taste.
- Recommended for this Recipe our Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil, and all-natural ground nutmeg, and sumac spice.
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