Valentine’ Day is almost here again. While I’ve enjoyed celebrating it every year, there always seems to be something artificial about it. Shouldn’t you express yourself to a loved one every day and not just one day a year? With this over-commercialization of most major (and minor) holidays, I’ve become a regular crab. But a few weekends ago, I suddenly I found myself going through the movements of prepping for this holiday and picked up heart-shaped pasta thinking I would do something fun and cute. Perhaps I was overwhelmed with the amount of heart-shaped foods that seemed to be littering the interwebs: cakes, cookies, pizzas. I’m just waiting for the heart-shaped steak and burgers to make an appearance. Don’t even get me started on the overuse of red velvet in pastries, either. Can you my eyes roll to the back of my head?
I decided to use the heart-shaped pasta as a foundation to soak up the vibrant red sauce from this version of chicken paprikash, modified from Saveur. Other variations called for chopped tomatoes or red peppers but I wanted a smooth sauce. This worked out quite well.
The defining ingredient in chicken paprikash is paprika. Traditionally, the Hungarian version of the spice is used but I switched it with a smoked Spanish variety by La Chinata.
La Chinata has three types of smoked paprika: sweet, hot and bitter. It’s sealed in an airtight and light-proof tin to protect its smoky flavor profile. Seriously, one whiff of the paprika transports you to a smokehouse. (I’ve become quite a food sniffer of late, figuring that I should use all my senses when it comes to cooking and eating.) I’m embarrassed to admit that I previously thought that paprika really had no discernible taste and was only used for color. Then came La Chinata. To say I’m never going back to plain old paprika again is an understatement.
As for the chicken paprikash, I use a ratio of 2 to 1 of sweet to spicy and it can be easily adjusted to suit your taste. And to fit in with Valentine’s Day, I’ve replaced the sliced onions with whole pearl onions. They’re easy pick out for those eaters who are breath-conscious. But the sauce and the chicken are delicious and the smoky aroma is so inviting that you’ll forget onions are even included.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs
2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
14 oz bag petite whole pearl onions, defrosted
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Liberally season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Heat a dutch oven or large pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter.
When the butter has is hot, place the chicken skin-side down. Let the chicken pieces cook 4-5 minutes, until skin is well browned. Turn over and cook for additional 2-3 minutes on the other side.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the pearl onions to the pan, scrapping bits of chicken loose and cook for 5 minutes or until light brown.
Add paprika and chicken broth until combined.
Place chicken on top of onions and place lid on top of pan. Cook for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Remove chicken and stir in sour cream. Add additional salt and pepper if necessary and replace chicken back and cover with sauce.
Serve on top of noodles, dumplings or rice.