Barely Tested Recipes: Paprika & Garlic Chicken
Fucking around with some easy "weeknight" recipe ideas
A really good cookbook, say one written by Ina Garten, has been recipe tested into oblivion. She has assistants and sends out the recipes to people to try and give feedback until they dial it in and it’s ready to go in a book that will sell 1 million copies. I love it, and I respect it. And if one day I write a cookbook I will do the same. But what is there to learn if I give you something that is fully vetted and packaged up and perfected? I’d be really curious to have y’all play around with this and see where it can go. There is some Hungarian cuisine stuff going on here, as last night I had a chicken, saw I had some paprika that I was in the mood to use, so I started looking up some recipes for “paprika chicken”. Often, if I’m in the mood to cook something I won’t look up a recipe and follow it. I will skim a few different ones and get a feel for what’s going on and start throwing it together. If you are confident in your basic skills, techniques, and understanding of how flavor profiles work together, it’s a really fun way to cook new dishes and discover things you’ve never thought about. Anyways, this is what I landed on, try this out and get back to me?
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Paprika & Garlic Chicken
9x13 Casserole dish
Medium size bowl
Whisk or fork
Whole 3 - 4 lb chicken or 2.5 to 3 lbs of skin on, bone in drumsticks or thighs. Do not, do not, do not make this with boneless, skinless anything. Breasts on the bone is fine especially if are using the whole chicken as I did.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh chopped garlic, or more if you like…I like. Do not use that jarred shit. I’m gonna say it every time I write about garlic so get used to it.
3 TBSP Smoked Paprika (If you can find that Hungarian smoked paprika, even better)
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
Some other fresh herbs - Oregano, thyme…really anything you have will do and bring different things to the dish. You can use dried too, just make sure to use less. I never really measure these. Just eyeball what looks delicious to you, but be careful with the dried. Usually a teaspoon of those goes far enough.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Break down your chicken into 8 pieces - 2 Breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings. Keep everything on the bone and in tact as much as you can. I just cut right down the middle of the breasts, through the breastplate and then split down the middle of the backbone. Separate the leg quarters, cut in half. Separate wings from breasts. Lots of youtube videos that could how you how this is done. This one from Serious Eats is real good. Place your broken down chicken pieces directly into the casserole dish skin side up. Season liberally with kosher salt.
Mix the olive oil, garlic, paprika, parsley, herbs and some pepper (you could add crushed red pepper if you want it spicy?) in a bowl and pour directly over the chicken, distributing evenly. Make sure to get all the paprika that is stuck at bottom of the bowl, and try to spoon it onto the chicken skin. Give the casserole dish a shake so everything can settle in together.
At this point you could throw it in the fridge and let it marinate overnight but you don’t need to, and for this to be a truly easy meal with hardly any planning ahead I encourage you to just throw it right in the oven. 45 minutes will get it done.
When you pull it out, baste the chicken with the cooking liquid and let it rest for 10 minutes on the table. Garnish with more fresh parsley, maybe a squeeze of lemon? Enjoy.
* A couple of notes: if you cook it too hot you will burn the garlic and maybe the oil. Olive oil has a lower smoke point, but the juices from the chicken will mitigate that some. I did finish the last 15 minutes of cooking at 425 degrees because I wanted to get a little more char and crispy on top, but just pay attention. Burnt garlic ruins a dish. Also, I saw a few recipes that cooked the oil/garlic/paprika/herb mixture in a saute pan for 1 minute before pouring over the chicken. While I get the logic - trying to “release the flavors” of all the ingredients, I think it’s pointless…you are literally about to put it in the oven and release the flavors while it cooks.
This would be great with some buttered egg noodles or rice, or just own it’s own. Maybe some bread to soak of the sauce? Any carb source you enjoy would be just fine. I’m mulling over the idea of how to make this a rice casserole with some sort of fresh Eastern European farm style cheese melted on top or crumbled at the end. This could also be the great start of a soup? Chicken salad with the leftovers? The possibilities are endless.
Let me know how it goes, how you modify, and how it could evolve?