We’re talking about French food again. After Julia Child’s Chicken with Cream, Mushrooms and Port, I came upon another French recipe. The truth is that I had completely forgotten about this Chicken with Paprika (Poulet au Paprika) recipe, which ended up buried in my recipe collection, which I created over time. I kept postponing trying this dish until it left my mind entirely. Luckily, I rediscovered it not so long ago. It was one of those nights when I just couldn’t decide what to make for dinner. I knew I wanted something simple, but elegant (not to mention that I only had a few basic ingredients in my fridge and pantry that I kind of wanted to get rid of), but I couldn’t make up my mind. I was frantically rushing through my ever-expanding recipe collection when I dug it up again.
I was in Toronto when I first saw Laura Calder make this Chicken with Paprika (Poulet au Paprika) dish on Food Network Canada (the Canadian sister of Food Network). And I was intrigued. I’ll tell you why – because Hungarian paprika is one of the main ingredients of this dish. I wondered if this was really a French recipe (Laura Calder’s show is called French Food at Home). And then I saw the cream and wine… I know that paprika is widely used in French cuisine, but it’s even more prevalent in Hungarian cooking. So, I would say that this recipe is indeed French, but with a Hungarian twist.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter if the recipe is French or Hungarian. What matters are the amazing flavors that will pop and dance in your mouth, and how fast you’ll go for seconds. The paprika gives the vegetables a nice deep red tint, and half way through the recipe they are drowned in a crisp and light white wine, which elevates the flavors to a whole different level. The sauce has depth and is just divine. The cream makes it velvety and rich; the red pepper makes it sweet; the celery gives it a crunch, while the plump tomatoes make it tangy and copious. Not to mention the full-bodied aroma the chicken absorbs while bathing in this decadent sauce and still remaining moist and juicy. It’s unbelievable how simple ingredients can create a dish that is so gourmet and flavorsome.
Chicken with Paprika (Poulet au Paprika)
Adapted from Poulet au Paprika by Laura Calder
Serves: 4 servings
· 4 chicken drumsticks and 4 chicken thighs
· Salt and black pepper
· 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
· 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into roughly 2-inch / 5 cm julienne
· 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
· 2 celery stalks, sliced
· 1 Tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
· 1 clove garlic, minced
· ½ cup / 125 ml white wine, such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
· 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
· 1 teaspoon sugar
· 1 bay leaf
· 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium heat in a sauté pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Remove chicken to a platter.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, red pepper and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the paprika. Cook until soft, about 10-12 minutes, adding the garlic for the final minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the tomatoes, sugar and bay leaf. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Put the chicken back in. Cover the pan, and cook over medium-low heat, turning the chicken occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Turn up the heat under the sauce and boil down to sauce consistency, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir through the cream, check the seasonings (including the paprika, adding more if you like), then pour over the chicken, and serve.
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)