SMOKED PAPRIKA CHICKEN

When one of my twitter followers posted my mug shot and this recipe today from my old column in the Evening Standard, several people wanted the recipe. So here it is, published Friday 1 March 2002. No photo or illustration I’m afraid but my usual style of writing the recipe in real time and maybe figs for pud.

     I gave a recipe a few days ago for a lamb version of chili con carne made with sweet smoked paprika and omitted to mention any stockists. You`ll definitely find it at Sainsbury`s, in their Special Selection and I`ve seen it on the shelves of several delicatessen. You can`t miss the bright red little tin with the brand name La Chinata in yellow letters. Take care, though, to choose the one called `sweet` because the other, in an identical tin, labelled `hot`, is seriously powerful. The soft version has an unmistakably smoky aroma and pungent but gentle flavour. I`m addicted to its interesting flavour and use it all the time to perk up all sorts of meat and vegetable dishes. It has an extraordinary effect on simple stews, particularly those made with beans and white meat. This is my latest, quick and easy chicken supper and I like to serve it goulash-style with a garnish of soured cream and chives and spoon it over noodles tossed with butter and more chives. Lightly cooked green beans are the perfect accompaniment. To make this even-tempered dish for four, add an extra onion, double the amount of chicken and stock and add four rather than three teaspoons of paprika. It reheats perfectly.

Serves 2

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 45 min

2 onions

25g butter

2 chicken breast fillets

squeeze of lemon

3 flat tsp La Chinata sweet smoked paprika

salt

1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 250ml boiling water

150g soured cream or creme fraiche or thick Greek yoghurt

1 tsp flour

1 tbsp finely snipped chives

To cook: Peel, halve and slice the onions and finely as possible. Heat the butter in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan and when bubbling, stir in the onions. Cook gently, stirring often, for at least 15 minutes, possibly longer, until slippery, soft and golden brown. Meanwhile, slice the chicken into short, bite-size ribbons. Season with lemon juice. When the onions are ready, stir in the paprika with half a teaspoon of salt and cook for a minute or two before adding the stock. Bring the liquid back to the boil, then add the chicken. Reduce the heat immediately to very low and cover the pan. Cook for 10 minutes then remove the lid and check that the chicken is cooked through. If not, cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir the flour into 2 tablespoons of soured cream and stir it back into the pan. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Rest for a few minutes before serving over noodles with a dollop of the remaining soured cream and a garnish of chives. A final but restrained garnish of paprika sets off the colours beautifully.