Friday, April 9, 2010

Chicken paprika

Chicken POP-ree-ka.

Sorry, a bit of an inside joke, but I can't pronounce chicken paprika the normal way anymore.  That and lots of other random words like Canada, fajitas or framboise.  (I lovingly refer to them as can-AY-dee-uh (hi Sue!), fa-gee-tas and fram-boy-zee.)

Aren't inside jokes an interesting thing?? They're hilarious to you and the people you share them with, but the second you try to explain them to someone else you couldn't be more lame.  I have a sinking feeling this is going to be me as a parent as well. Always with the lame stories and jokes...

At this point I don't even remember how chicken POP-ree-ka started, but the pronunciation has never left me.  Ironically, I don't think I'd ever actually made it before.  But when I came across this recipe I just knew that I'd love it, and I was right!

After all these years of cooking I can almost always tell exactly which recipe I'll like just by reading it.  Unfortunately, the more time consuming and annoying it is to make, the more likely I'm going to want to eat it.

Luckily for me though this was not one of those crazy recipes.  Just a hearty and easy dish that serves up a TON of food. I love when spending one night cooking provides me with food for an entire week.

I admit, I'm not sure if this is a classic chicken paprika dish, but it uses a ton of paprika so that's what I'm gonna call it.

First coat your chicken with a ridiculous amount of paprika

Then sear until nice and golden on each side.

Unfortunately, I think my chicken got a little more dark than just golden (aka burnt).  In the end it was fine; nothing tasted burnt at all.  But I would probably sear the chicken at a less-hot temperature than normal since the paprika is prone to burning.

Out goes the chicken and in goes the onion and garlic. After they're nice and soft, add your tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and bay leaves. Top with the chicken, cover and allow to simmer until the chicken is done.

As a note- if you taste the sauce you might be concerned that the flavor of the spices is a bit overpowering. Don't worry, because you'll be adding a lot of pasta to the sauce it'll be the perfect amount of flavor in the end.  Trust me.

Warning: Don't let your tomato sauce get this close to the edge of your pan. Don't be lazy like me and just try to make it fit. Just get another pan if the one you're using is too small.  Because at first everything looks simply perfect....

... until after the hour of simmering (and slight bubbling from the tomatoes) you get this hot mess:

So after the chicken is done cooking, move it to another platter and stir in the sour cream (making sure to temper it first).

mmmmm, that sour cream gives it such the perfect level of creaminess.

But it's not a "creamy" type of pasta.  Just tomato-y, full bodied flavor deliciousness.

Buen Provecho,

Paprika Chicken with Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce, adapted from Crepes of Wrath (who adapted it from Mimi on the Move)

serves 5+ people

5 large chicken leg/thigh quarters, chicken breasts or a whole cut up chicken. 
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/4 red pepper flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
5 tablespoons paprika (Hungarian, sweet, smoked, regular…whatever you have on hand)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced as thinly as possible
3 bay leaves
38 ounces crushed or diced tomatoes (one 24 oz can + one 14 oz can)
1 can tomato paste, 4 oz
1 pound pasta
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Mix together salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil and paprika. Season chicken liberally to coat with the spice mixture. (Reserve any remaining spices.)

2. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Sear chicken skin side down until golden, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and sear the other side for another 5 minutes.  Do in 2-3 batches if all the chicken doesn't fit at once.  Remove chicken and set aside when done.

3. Add some more olive oil to the pan if needed (I didn’t need to) and add the onions and garlic. Scrape up all of the browned bits from the pan (flavor!) and saute the onions and garlic until softened and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes.  Add any remaining spices (from step 1) at this point.

4. Turn the heat down to low and add in the bay leaves, tomatoes, and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add in the chicken skin side up and cover. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (or until chicken is done), making sure to stir the sauce and flip the chicken every 20 minutes or so to prevent burning.

5. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, begin to cook your pasta according to package directions.

6. When the chicken is done, remove it from the tomato sauce, cover with foil to keep it warm and set aside. Temper the sour cream by adding a spoonful or two of the hot tomato sauce to the sour cream and whisk until smooth. (This will allow you to have a smooth sauce rather than one with chunks of sour cream from the shock of the heat). Skim off as much fat as you can from the sauce (fat schmat, I left it all in there), then add in the sour cream and stir until combined.  Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.

7. Serve the pasta with the chicken and enjoy!


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