Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Quick chicken paprikash pilaf

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 Quick chicken paprikash pilaf
It isn't really a paprikash, and it isn't really a pilaf either. But it's a tasty and comforting quick dish for a brisk autumn evening.
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Quick chicken paprikash pilaf

Okay, to tell you the truth, this dish isn't really a paprikash, and it isn't really a pilaf either. But it's a tasty and comforting quick dish for a brisk autumn evening, an idea randomly inspired by the finally changing weather and, perhaps more important, ingredients that I found around the house on a day when I really should have gone to the grocery and stocked up.

A few chicken thighs, some onions, green peppers and garlic, a cup of rice, a couple of cups of broth and a smallish dose of deliciously smoky smoked Spanish paprika was all I needed to bring it together, and the entire dinner needed only about 45 minutes to bring from the fridge to the table. On a busy day, there's nothing the matter with that.

For the record, a more authentic chicken paprikash is a rich Hungarian stew of boneless tender chicken and onions cooked in sour cream with plenty of mild paprika, usually served over egg noodles. A proper Turkish pilaf, like a risotto, normally requires a bit more effort than I devoted here, carefully parching rice in butter before cooking it airtight.

So sue me. Or better yet, try this hearty dish, and then perhaps you'll thank me instead.


(Serves two)

4 chicken thighs or mixed parts, bone in and skin on
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Black pepper
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
Dried red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
2/3 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Salt (if necessary)


1. Rinse the chicken pieces and let them drain but do not pat them dry. Put a large skillet or saute pan over high heat. When it's very hot, put in the damp chicken pieces, skin-side down. Don't move them for a minute or two, then shake the pan to make sure they're not sticking. Turn heat to medium-high, season them with the smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste, and continue browning, turning often, until well-browned.

2. Peel and mince the garlic; chop the onion and bell pepper, and put all these chopped vegetables with a small shake of dried red-pepper flakes in the pan around the chicken pieces, which should have given off more than enough fat to brown them. Season to taste with dried(In the unlikely event there's not enough, add a little olive oil.)

3. When the vegetables are translucent and starting to brown and the chicken is well browned, stir in the rice and stir until it's well-coated with fat from the pan. Add the chicken broth.

4. Cover the skillet tightly, or if you prefer, transfer everything to a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Place over low heat and cook tightly covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary.

5. Serve with your choice of green vegetable or salad; entirely by accident I discovered that the smoky, savory rice makes a wonderful combination with lima beans, so much so that next time I might cook 1 cup of limas right in with the rice.

WINE MATCH: Either a crisp, acidic white or a light, fruity and acidic red would work fine; it was delicious with Francesco Rinaldi & Figli 2006 Grignolino d'Asti from Northwestern Italy.

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