I love bold, spicy flavors. As I’ve mentioned before, I am one of those people who craves BIG flavor. I could eat slices of raw onions with gorgonzola sprinkled on top. Olives stuffed with raw garlic cloves, muhhhhh. I can eat a whole jar of them.
With spices themselves, I also like to go big. I’m sure people who prefer bland food would say I’m a little heavy handed on the spices. Since I’m sharing my recipes with the masses, I try to find a balance so just about anyone could enjoy the recipes I share.
One spice that can go either way, by way of bold or by way of subtle, is paprika. Sweet Hungarian paprika has a sweet, floral, peppery flavor without the heat of other peppers. Smoked sweet paprika has a sweet, cool, much bolder smoky flavor.
By itself, chicken is bland. Chicken liver, not so much, but that’s a different post for a different day. My brother’s girlfriend, who was born in Hong Kong, and I had a conversation about this over Thanksgiving–most countries’ palate highlight all types of meat: goat, veal, pork, and duck to name a few. Very rarely do countries showcase chicken unless it’s been braised in red wine for hours or slow roasted in a tagine for a remarkable amount of time with curry and other spices.
These countries know what’s up and it’s about masking the flavor of an otherwise bland meat with a bright flavor. In comes into play with the well-known Hungarian dish, Chicken Paprikash.
The recipe below is from The Settlement Cookbook (1921). As you can see, the product of this recipe is a stew…a very bland stew. Did I mention I like to go big or go home with spices?!
I didn’t want bland, nor did I want to go with a stew, though the Settlement recipe proved to be a great inspiration. I wanted to make something memorable with the chicken I had on hand. After the day of chicken slaughtering this past summer, I have a new respect for poultry, regardless of the unfortunate, boring taste of their flesh. So, I treated this like a curry. I marinated the dark meat* in a spice-yogurt mixture for a full 24 hours before cooking it. I also used spices that pack a punch like garlic, onion, and cayenne.
*I usually process whole chickens from the grocery store unless pre-cut chickens are on sale. I always keep the bone in and the skin on because that’s where all the flavor is. If there’s a BOGO on pre-cut chicken, I usually divide the parts in Ziplocs and freeze what I don’t use immediately. (i.e. wings go in one bag, breasts in one bag, dark meat in another, and backs in always-growing stock bag that lives in my freezer). This will save time and money on a number of levels and it only takes a few freezer bags, a sharpie, and planning a little in advance.
After baking the chicken, uncovered, for a good bit of time, I used the same skillet to make the onion gravy because those delicious cooked bits and chicken fat were on the bottom of the skillet and those can’t possibly go to waste. There’s deglazing involved here, so no need to worry. If it’s too much fat for your liking, you can always skim, but the fat my chicken produced equated to approximately 2 Tbsp. of butter. Pick your poison: butter, oil, or rendered fat.
- 8 garlic cloves, grated
- ⅛ onion, grated
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika (or sweet paprika)
- 1 tsp. tumeric
- ½ tsp. cayenne
- 1½ cup plain yogurt (or 1 cup plain greek yogurt+1/4 cup milk)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 lbs. of dark meat, bone in chicken
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 heaping Tbsp. sour cream
- Parsley, to garnish
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Mix grated garlic and onion, paprika, tumeric, and cayenne into a paste. Once mixed, divide the paste. Add half the paste to a medium sized bowl. Add yogurt (and milk if using), lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix well. Refrigerate the other half of the paste until later. Place chicken pieces in a ziploc bag. Pour yogurt-spice mixture over chicken. Close bag and massage yogurt into chicken. Let marinate for 8-24 hours, turning bag once or twice to ensure both sides of the chicken are coated.
- Once chicken has marinated for a good amount of time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Coat the bottom of an oven proof skillet with thin layer of Grapeseed oil. Using tongs, remove chicken from marinade, allowing excess marinade to drip off. Place chicken pieces, skin side up, in skillet. Bake for 45 minutes or until the juices of the chicken run clear.
- Once chicken has baked, transfer cooked chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
- Transfer skillet to stovetop. Add sliced onions to skillet, stir to coat with the grapeseed and rendered chicken fat and turn burner to medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add thinly sliced bell peppers and stir in the remainder of the spice paste so the veggies are coated. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the peppers have softened but still have a nice crunch left to them.
- Deglaze skillet with 1 cup of chicken broth and add ½ Tbsp. sweet paprika. If you really love the smokey flavor, you could use smoked paprika here. I used the sweet variety because I had just enough smokey from the marinade and spice paste.
- Allow liquid to reduce and thicken slightly. Once reduced, turn off heat and allow mixture to cool slightly so the sour cream will not clump or curdle.
- Stir in sour cream to the mixture until well combined. Transfer chicken from the plate to the skillet. Serve with potatoes, rice, or pasta.