Sunday, March 23, 2014

Your Sunday Dinner: Paprika Chicken

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I have a few things to confess before I give you this recipe. First, it isn't mine. I got it out of last week's PEOPLE, and let me tell you, that is a first. I'm usually not tempted by "Taylor Swift's Tatertot casserole" or "Angelina Jolie's angelfood cake." Like those people really cook? Pull the other one.

Second, I've never heard of the recipe's author (creator? Originator?), Carla Hall, despite the fact that she's apparently been on a big deal cooking show for three years. This is what life without cable gets you, folks. Cultural illiteracy. 

Third, I didn't even cook the dish myself. Ross did. In fact, I wasn't even in the house while he made it. I waltzed in from an afternoon writing at the library, set the table and sat down. However, Ross assures me it came together quickly, easily and economically. I can assure you it was delicious. Even Youngest said she'd like it again.

Chicken Paprika

Extra virgin olive oil  (ours was more like Slightly experienced olive oil)
 8 chicken thighs (recipe said skin on, but Ross knows I hate that, so he peeled them)
Kosher salt (we used Episcopalian salt)
1 onion, chopped
2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped (Ross, afraid of overheating our New England palates, substituted jalepenos. But they really weren't that hot at all, so I would definitely up the ante to serranos.)
2 minced garlic cloves (we have the pre-minced stuff.)  
1/2 t sweet paprika
pinch of ground red pepper
1 c chicken stock (ours is home made, makes up for the cheap salt and convenient garlic)
1/3 c sour cream
1 T chopped Italian parsley

Simmer 1/8 inch oil in a deep skillet. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and lay them skin side down in the oil. Cook 15 minutes, turn, cook another 5-10 minutes until "golden brown." (Our chicken wasn't quite golden. Guess that's what happens when you denude the thighs.)

Saute onion, chiles, garlic and 1/4 t salt in the pan drippings. Stir in paprika, red pepper, cook 1 minute. Add the stock, bring the mixture to a boil, and return the chicken to the skillet. Simmer the whole she-bang, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the serving dish (Ross draped it with plastic wrap and threw a dishtowel over it to keep it warm.)

Reduce heat to low, whisk sour cream into the mixture in the skillet. Pour over the chicken, garnish with parsley. We had the chicken on a serving plate and poured the sauce into a gravy pitcher so everyone could add to his or her taste. We also nuked some egg noodles from the night before and served them beneath the chicken - that stretched it out nicely.

Excellent, as I said. Carla Hall has a new cookbook coming out at in April; CARLA'S COMFORT FOODS, FAVORITE DISHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. If this is an example of what's in it, I'm going to order it for Ross.



  1. I’ve never heard of Carla Hall either, but the chicken does sound yummy and easy to prepare [although around here no one except me ventures into the kitchen to cook] . . . .
    Thanks for sharing the recipe . . . .

  2. You got me at "convenient garlic.". I think that is a good book title or rock band name…
    But I am sitting at the Allentown Airport at sunrise… So my mind may be a little addled.

  3. Episcopalian salt! LOVE!

    Now I have to figure out how to make this vegetarian... Porcini mushrooms, maybe?

  4. Nice sunrise, I hope, Hank?

    Nom nom nom...

    The kind of paprika you use is key with chicken paprika. Eschew the $1/bottle kind that you can get a job lot and spring for the real deal. And if you use hot paprika I'll bet you could skip the red pepper and serranos.

    I take the skin off, too - otherwise it's very fatty and oogy (technical term).

    Ross is my hero.

  5. Who knew reading a recipe could be so much fun and funny?! You crack me up, Julia Spencer-Fleming. ALWAYS ready for a new recipe and this one sounds right up our alley - thanks!

  6. Before Hallie posted her recipe for Chicken Paprikash (somewhere... here?), I'd never really had it, let alone made it, before. But now we are big fans. I'm crazy for mushrooms, so I use twice as many.

    Taking the skin off is a good tip! I was never a fan of dark meat until a few years ago, but thighs have so much more flavor than breasts.

  7. Carla Hall (born May 12, 1964) is an American chef and television personality. She was a finalist in the fifth and eighth seasons of Top Chef, Bravo's cooking competition show. She is currently one of five cohosts on The Chew, a one-hour talk show centered on food from all angles, which premiered in September 2011 on ABC. Now we know!

  8. Not having cable, I've never heard of Carla Hall or seen Top Chef. But I have learned over the years that leaving off the skins of chicken cuts the flavor. What I often do is cook chicken with the skin, then let it cool and remove the fat (very easy to do as it rises to the top and solidifies). You get more flavor.

    I haven't eaten chicken paprikash or paprica chicken since I had dinner at the NYC apartment of the mother of one of my dad's best friends (a famous TV writer) my freshman year in college. It was totally unpalatable, and when I got back to my dorm, I called home to tell my parents about it.

    My dad just laughed. "Why do you think [famous writer] ate all his meals at our house when we were in high school?" he asked. "His mother was a notoriously bad cook."

    Her notoriety hadn't reached me before that. But even the thought of her version of that dish has discouraged me from ordering, cooking, or even tasting it for half a century. It was that bad (although I can't imagine how she managed to make it that bad!)

  9. Chopped is our family's fav cooking show, even the nine-year-old's. She says making dinner from stuff like fish tails and marshmallows "is what my Mom does every night."

  10. The recipe sounds delicious and tempting.
    But the winner is your writing! The oil, salt, garlic, and stock. Brilliant!
    It isn't often that I get a good laugh over a recipe, well, not an intentional one!

  11. That's the way I like to cook: set the table and enjoy the efforts of others.

    And I know just the person I'll use the "slightly experienced olive oil" phrase next time we chat. Thanks for that alone, Julia, never mind the rest of this entertaining post.

  12. The picture of this dish in People magazine shows a reddish sauce. Mine didn't turn out that way at all - more of a brown/yellowish color so while still delicious, just didn't look as appetizing. I followed the recipe exactly except I only used one Serrano pepper as I am a baby when it comes to using spicy ingredients. Any thoughts on coloring?

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