Monday, August 1, 2011
Comfort in a Bowl: Chicken Paprikash
There are some foods which warm you from the inside out and feel like delicious medicine for the body and soul. I guess that's why it's called Soul Food. Every culture has their version of Soul Food, usually in the form of something warm and meaty. And I would argue that these dishes are, indeed, traditional healing medicines.
It's been raining every day now for about two weeks. The fact that my first blog post for August is about a comforting stew is testament to the fact that we have had a cold, wet July. And although the days are dark and people complain, I don't have to tell you how relieved I am that we aren't stuck in a heat wave. Because even though walking through a damp, dripping forest isn't ideal with two dogs, it's still better for my pregnant self than the sticky, almost unbearable heat we had in June.
Looking out of the kitchen window this morning, I noticed that the large linden trees already have a few yellowing leaves. I wondered if the rain will make autumn come sooner or later. Does water have anything to do with the intensity of color? With the length of time that foliage stays on the trees? Nature always poses so many questions for me.
Last week, on a grey and rainy day like today, I felt a sudden craving for chicken paprikash, a hearty dish from my Hungarian roots. I looked up a few recipes to get an idea, and tried to remember how my mom had made it on a past visit. In the end, though, true to my typical self, I stood in the kitchen with some ingredients and just cooked.
The result was absolutely satisfying and addictive. I was amazed how such a simple dish could be so amazingly good. The true test, though, was my husband. He usually doesn't like 'soupy' meals. So I was surprised when he dug into his bowl saying a few times, "This has to be one of the best things I've ever eaten."
Here, from my Real Food kitchen to yours, infused with hearty nutrition...
Generous knob of grass-fed butter
1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, seeded and finely minced
4 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot paprika
2 bone-in, skin-on organic free range chicken breasts
4 bone-in, skin-on organic free range chicken thighs
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth (I used water and bouillon cubes)
1 cup sour cream
salt to taste
Rice or egg noodles for serving
Melt the butter in a large pot.
Add your chopped onions and minced bell pepper and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are glassy.
Add the paprika and cayenne to the pot, turn down heat a little, and stir. (Be careful...paprika will burn to the bottom of the pan if there is not enough fat...add more butter if you have to.)
Cut slivers down to the bone in the breasts and thighs, but being sure to keep the pieces whole.
Place them, skin side down, on top of the onion/pepper mixture in the pot.
Pour the canned tomatoes and the broth over everything.
Bring to a soft boil, then cover and reduce heat.
Allow to simmer for about 1/2 an hour; longer if you like. (Just be sure it's simmering, NOT boiling.)
Remove chicken pieces. Discard the skin; reserve bones for future soup stock; and shred meat with two forks.
Stir the sour cream into the bright red broth with a whisk until fully incorporated.
Add the shredded chicken meat and stir.
Add salt to taste.
Serve hot over buttered basmati rice or egg noodles.