The last day of vacation is always a little bittersweet, especially when we are at our “forever house” in New Mexico and have to do a mind-shift to prepare to return to Atlanta. We’re sad to leave behind the peace and quiet, the wonderful views, the pleasant weather, and big open skies. On the other hand, we do miss our pets and we do have our jobs to get back to! Okay…maybe it is a little more bitter than sweet.
On that last day, there is always a smattering of food to get rid of so it doesn’t go to waste. Much to James’ dismay, I often pack leftover food in my luggage…limes, onions, nuts, garlic – things that should survive the TSA and the flight home. Occasionally I’ll stick a block of cheese in my purse…but enough of my food issues. “Googling” leftover ingredients is a good way to come up with recipe possibilities. This was the situation the first time I made chicken paprikash. Sour cream, onions, chicken – search for that on google or epicurious.com and eventually you’ll turn up a recipe for chicken paprika or chicken paprikash.
We liked this dish so much we made it again for our friends, Susan and David…who joined us on Friday night for what could have been the last dinner ever! We served the chicken with roasted cauliflower instead of the traditional noodles or dumplings. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the spices add a little heat and a lot of aromatics. The sauce is great with roasted cauliflower. There weren’t any leftovers!
The choice of paprika is very important, since it is the defining flavor of this dish. Do not use old paprika that has been sitting in the cabinet for years! I heartily recommend this paprika from The Spice House. It is a high quality paprika from Hungary, and was the distinct winner in taste tests on Cook’s Illustrated. I’ve been using it for years in dry rubs for barbeque, but it really shines in this recipe.
- 8-10 chicken thighs (or legs and thighs)
- 2-3 tablespoons of oil – butter/ghee/coconut oil/olive oil (I used butter and coconut oil)
- 2 sweet onions, sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into thin strips lengthwise
- More butter (mmm, Kerrygold butter from grass-fed cows)
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika (or add more regular sweet paprika if you don’t have smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup sour cream (do not let me catch you using the low-fat stuff!)
- 1 more tablespoon sweet paprika for sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Season both sides of chicken with salt. Heat ~ 2-3 T oil in a large Dutch oven (or flame-proof tagine) over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook without moving them until the skin is well-browned, 4-5 minutes. Carefully turn over and cook 2-3 minutes until browned on the second side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs until all are cooked.
Discard most of the hot oil from the pan, and add a couple tablespoons of butter. Add onions and red bell peppers to the pan, stirring and tossing frequently, until the onions and peppers are softened and the onion is beginning to brown. Stir in paprika, cayenne pepper, and marjoram. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth, and mix well, scraping up any remaining browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Place the browned chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top of the onions and peppers, partially submerging them in the broth. Cover and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes or more, to desired level of tenderness.
Remove chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate. Combine sour cream and remaining tablespoon of paprika in a small bowl or measuring cup. Mix in a few tablespoons of the hot liquid from the pot into the sour cream to warm it, then whisk the sour cream mixture into the sauce in the pot. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Place the chicken back in the sauce and warm gently, if necessary. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve!
Serve it with the blues!
Two long time favorites here, both legends indeed. Mississippi John Hurt might play the quietest, most gentle blues you’ll ever hear, but it speaks volumes. The Complete Studio Recordings is a great place to discover one of the most influential and enjoyable bluesmen ever.
Amtrak Blues was one of the final recordings by Alberta Hunter, who performed into her 80s, but she never lost a step along the way. Hers is the definitive “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down and Out)”, apologies to one E. Clapton. And when she gets salty, as on “My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More” you’ll be surprised an 83 year old woman can make ya blush. Sing it sister!