They say the first step to beat addiction is to admit you have a problem. So here it goes. I seem to be out of control on the following:
- smoked paprika
- the food section on The Independent
Unfortunately, it is too late to save me from avos. Besides, I am simply not ready to part with them. As for the over-reliance on smoked paprika, and the incessant checking of food news online, there may be a way out. Just not today. Maybe talking about it will help. Today, I came across this piece on meals for one: what chefs and foodies cook when they’re dining al solo. It was before lunch, and I had been trapped in an interminable conference call for approximately 45 hours, which is just what that sort of story is designed for. To wake up your mind and soul, and bring you back from near-coma situations. As I laid eyes on a lazy dish of chicken thighs, I knew I had found dinner.
It’s not often that I prepare slow cooking, all-in-one dishes. It’s probably because I tend to get distracted quickly, or the knowledge that leaving a pot to cook for 5 hours would probably mean forgetting about it altogether and returning to a house fire. The dish favoured by Belleau Kitchen posed no such threats, since it takes less than 2 hours, and it didn’t look like I was going anywhere for the rest of the day, seeing the way my call was going.
I made a few adjustments to fit what I had at home, and also the picture I had in my mind of smoky paprika chicken. I can’t explain the sudden paprika love. I don’t think I ever used this ingredient before last year, when I was given a small tin of it to try, and never looked back. I mainly use it to add a meaty taste to vegetarian dishes, but this time it was time to try it on flesh!
If I had to pick a recipe that is virtually impossible to mess up, this would be the one. You don’t even add oil to it. The fat on the chicken skin does the job for you. Just pile up layers of chopped vegetables and chicken, thrown in some wine (general rule in life) close the pot and abandon it to its own devices in the oven for a couple of hours. If you’re looking for a good cause for your fancy Le Creuset, this is your chance. I don’t have one – they always seem to cost the equivalent of half my holiday budget for the year. In fact, I have no idea how the pot in these photos ever found its way into my kitchen. I spotted it one day in the cellar, and suspect someone is looking for it as we speak. Too late now, as I finally saw the point of cooking with one of these babies, and it will be staying.
Chicken Thigh Casserole
for 4 people and a medium sized casserole dish: 25 cm (10 in)
This is slightly adapted from the original recipe, with a smaller dish and longer cooking time.
- 5 chicken thighs
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 lemon, cut into 2 quarters
- 2 carrots
- 1 green pepper
- 1 leek
- fresh herbs: I used rosemary, tyme, fennel leaves
- salt and black pepper
- 1 small glass white wine. I used Pinot Grigio
- 2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
Chop all the vegetables: the onions quite roughly, the garlic thinly, and the rest into 2 cm (just under 1 in) pieces.
Mix all the chopped vegetables together at the bottom of your casserole dish. Add herbs, paprika, salt and pepper, and mix.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, tuck in the lemon quarters in between then, sprinkle some more salt, pepper and herbs, and pour the wine over the lot.
Close the dish with the lid and take it to the oven for 1 hour.
Remove the lid, and let it cook for another 20- 30 minutes, or a bit more if needed. Check that the skin is crispy and the chicken done before serving.