Haven’t posted an eating column in a long time. Truth be told I’ve been in a bit of a culinary rut. Same damned things, same rotation, if I’d post the menu in the weekly paper you’d think you were in school, it’s that regular. Or a prison, depending on your choice of institutions. Around here, some days the differences are difficult to discern.
After dealing with the exploding Martha Stewart Pot, the one that I bought a Macy’s, that most loathsome of stores.. BTW, Mrs S us after heading over to Macy’s for some stupid reason, came so disgusted with the staff there that even she.. the paragon of etiquette had some decent venom. Anyway, after dealing with the pot I did manage to get a new one that I really like. Thank you Lodge Logic. A very nice 5.5 quart enameled cast iron thing that is perfect size and a very lovely blue.
What to make? Well if it’s Sunday at the casa I’m probably doing something with chicken, and of late that something involves paprika. I’ve been looking for the perfect chicken paprika and have been subjecting the family to my experiments. Here’s what I’ve learned…
1) The most important part of the recipe is, and sit down for this, paprika. And there’s a ton of different ones out there. Here’s another shocker for ye. And this surprised me quite frankly, Szeged, the stuff in the white and red can, the stuff that I’ve been touting for years, kinda sucks. Not even close to the better ones in my test. The flavors are too muted. On the other hand, Byerlys has an outstanding house brand that bursts with aroma and flavor. Archer Farms at Target is pretty good too, and the CoOp’s own bulk.. uh.. well at my coop, it paled a bit. Supposedly there’s a spice store in Lakeville that I’m told I need to get into. Maybe this weekend if I can figure out where it is.
And as we talk paprika, there are three kinds I tested, sweet, aka regular, smoked and hot. Now for the hot paprika, Szeged was the only option and I gotta say, a little of that goes a long way. It’s got some decent punch, I use it in Moroccan chicken. I thought I posted the recipe here, apparently not. If you want it, ask.
One more thing on paprika, I swear it is the fastest spice in the cabinet to fade away. After a few months even the best seems to lose it’s punch and fade into a tasteless red powder that would be pretty popular in Minnesota where salt is often called a spice. I date jars of the stuff and toss it after about two or three months. Wasteful? It’s $4.00.. so yeah but who cares.
The other thing which if you’re keeping score, is #2.. that cast iron enamel cooking pot. Because.. a) you can do the browning and the cooking in the same pot, which means all those delicious flavor molecules stay in where they belong, in the pot. The other thing, I’ve started finishing the dish in a 350 oven, and this makes that process work pretty well.
OK just a pointer here, I’m 100% better in the kitchen these days than I was even 18 months ago because I’ve leaned a bit of a golden rule in the culinary world, and that is.. Less, is MORE. I used throw everything I owned into a dish; celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, spinach, rice, guinea pig, you name it, it went in. Now.. I’m pretty lean.
And when I tweak.. I tweak one thing at a time. So here we go.
Since it’s called chicken paprika, you will need some dead birds.. Personally I love chicken thighs and seem to use those a bunch. For this recipe however they’re absolutely perfect. Typically I’d use the bone in thighs.. but when my local grocer was out of the bone in thighs I tried the bone-less. I’ll say this, while they were easier to use, and easy to eat.. they weren’t quite as tasty. Something was missing. They didn’t have that earthy flavor that I like in dark meat.
I recommend bone in thighs, but if you can’t get them.. not a big deal.
Regarding the paprika..This recipe will call for 4 teaspoons of your favorite paprika powder.
Like regular light red paprika with mild flavor? Go with the sweet, again, 4 teaspoons.
Like smokey flavor like I do.. go with the smoked paprika. The broth this makes is a beautiful dark red almost burgundy.
Want more heat in the dish and your spice adverse daughter is sleeping over at a friends house.. and this will be a little hot, try 3 TSP sweet paprika, 1 TSP chipolte chili powder. That mix was pretty tasty; hot and smoky like a good Winston, only without the cig flavor. Kidding. It’s hot and delicious but not for everyone. Reminds me of Mrs S for some reason…
No more screwing around here’s the recipe.
8-10 thighs from the most tender virgin chickens… Aren’t all meat chickens virgins? Just say’n.
1 Large yellow onion, chopped corse. That means cut in half, sliced thin and once across. Sank’s corse.
One red pepper, chopped into strips
One yellow pepper, same deal.
One Green Pepper, stripped as well.
4 Cloves of garlic, smashed with a rolling pin on the floor between two sheets of saran wrap. That’s how my Mom did it, she’d never heard of a garlic press so that’s how I do it around here on Garlic Heritage Nights. If you’re lazy use a press.
1 Can chopped tomatos- 14.5 OZ size, drained.
1/2 Cup dry white wine for the pot, 1 cup for the cook. Seriously only put 1/2 cup in the pot.
Half a palm of House Seasoning. (TSP and a half roughly) If you’ve forgotten what this is or if you’re a new reader drop me a .. never mind. this is always premixed and around the house in quantity. 1/2 measure kosher salt, 1/4 measure black pepper, 1/4 measure garlic powder and that equals 1 measure of the stuff that I put on everything.
4 TSP Paprika mixture of your choice see above
1 TSP flour
1 TSP Marjoram.
Olive Oil- I never measure this, I use enough.. a bit more and you live a longer so enjoy.
Preheat oven to 350.
In the Dutch Oven-Heat a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan. Once or twice around is about right. While that’s heating up, dry the chicken and season with the house seasoning.
Brown the chicken in the bottom of the pan. 5 minutes per side. It takes two shifts in my pan. Remove the chicken an put it on a plate. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of the chicken fat. Add a tish more oil and add the onions and the garlic.
While the onions are cooking remove the skin from the chicken. Mrs S likes me to feed those to the dog because she believes that will shorten his life. Do what ever you feel right about, but I will tell you, if the dog doesn’t get at least one skin, he will bite my leg.
When the onions are soft add the peppers and stir. After about 5 minutes the peppers are softened then add the paprika and the marjoram and the flour and stir well for about 30 seconds. Don’t look directly into the pot, especially if you’re using the chipolte pepper powder, you’ll get a little chipolte pepper spray experience. Cooking is such a blast. Have your kid check it..heh.
Add the drained can of tomatoes and the wine. Remember 1/2 cup in the pot, 1 cup down your hatch. Using a nice wooden spatula scape up all the bits off the bottom of the pan and stir well. Add the now skinless chicken back to the pot, cover and put’r in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is done. Should be well done after 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Remove the chicken from the pan, bring the pot to a simmer and add a rough approximation of 1/3 of a cup of sour cream to the pot and whisk like a sunofabitch to get the lumps out. Place the chicken on plates and spoon the sauce and veggies over the chicken.
There ya go… a new family favorite- old world cooking made easy.