Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Grab & Run - oh yes - it's Chicken Paprika for Random Recipes

Ok - you have 10 seconds to save 1 - just 1 cook book. You're leaving (for somewhere - a new pad in London, in Dom - of Belleau Kitchen -'s case) and you have time to dash in, grab and run. Which one do you choose?

Now, from previous participation in Random Recipes, it seems that my collection of cookery books is fairly pitiful compared to some, but even so, it was an almost impossible challenge.

I tried several times. Well, mentally, at least. I dashed in, stopped, and missed the train/bus/boat. I even pretended the house was burning down - but I stood there and burned alive a couple of times, paralysed with indecision.

The trouble is, I may not have THAT many books (well, relatively speaking - the Husband would disagree) but I love them all for different reasons. Hugh, Nigella, Jamie. Thomasina, Claudia, Yottam, Rose, Harry, Ruth & Rose, Alain, Sophie, Rick, Delia. They are my friends. Well, perhaps not Delia, but I tolerate her, for I see her worth, but how to choose?

In the end I had to go back to first principles, and rescued my battered copy of Leith's Cookery Bible by Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave. First published in 1991, my mum must have given it to me when I first moved south to London.

It has come with me everywhere, has lost its back cover, and in fact during the making of this Random Recipe, it actually split in half :-( .
It is an intensely practical book - with hardly any glossy photos, no suggestion of silky dressing gowns, a Vespa or a football club. What it does have, though, is page after page of classic recipes. It has pages of things to do with chicken, pork, beef. First courses, sauces, puddings. It's where I go if I want to remind myself how many eggs to how much milk a sensible person would put in a quiche; cooking times for meat, fruit to sugar for a summer pudding. 

I don't tend to get inspiration from this book, but when I have an idea, or a longing for something that I know I've had before, but can't quite remember, this is usually the first place I'll look for an idea of how I might go about it.However, it's not a book that I pore over, drooling, and I don't think it has ever made it to my bedside for night time reading.

I decided to choose the recipe where the book fell open, which gave me 2 options Jambonneaux de poulet or Chicken Paprika.Chicken paprika won on the grounds that I really didn't want to bone out chicken thighs, and we needed something for Sunday dinner.

Basically a pot roast chicken in a tomato and paprika sauce, the chicken was lovely and moist, and I thought the sauce was lovely, if a slightly alarming shade of orange.

"...a slightly alarming shade of orange..."

For reasons far to complicated to go into here, I didn't take any pictures of the finished dish, only of the left over sauce - of which there was a lot, but then, we only ate about half the chicken. 

Guess what we're having for supper this evening? Chicken Paprika Pasta.

Chicken Paprika

Serves 4 with plenty leftover depending on age and appetite of the '4'

10g butter plus a tablespoon
10g flour
pinch mustard powder 
145ml milk
salt & pepper

1 tablespoon of oil
1 chicken (mine was 1.9 kg)
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp smoked paprika
200g can chopped tomatoes
100ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 slices lemon
handful of parsley stalks

First make a white sauce: melt 10g butter, then stir in the 10g flour & mustard powder and cook out for a minute.

Off the heat, carefully stir in all the milk a little at a time, then return to the heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, then set aside. You can put a piece of greaseproof paper onto the surface to stop a skin forming if you like.

Pre-heat your oven to 200C.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and remaining butter, and brown the chicken all over, then put into a casserole which has a good fitting lid.

Add the onion to the frying pan and cook till it's beginning to brown, then reduce the heat and add in the paprika. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, wine and stock, followed by the bay leaf, lemon slices and parsley. Season.

Bring the sauce to the boil then carefully pour over the chicken. Put the lid on the casserole and put the whole lot in the oven for about an hour, or when the chicken is cooked. Mine did take just over an hour.

Remove the chicken and set it aside. Take out the lemon slices and bay out, and remove as much of the fat from the surface of the sauce as you can. Liquidise the tomato paprika sauce, then beat in the white sauce you made earlier until the sauce is smooth.

Serve with the chicken. We had it with new potatoes and a medley of beans from the garden but it would be good with rice too, I think.


  1. I don't have this book but I know i'd treasure it just like you. I think Leith is amazing and I love her work... I'm loving this random recipes this month, it seems to be making everyone think about their collections a little bit... fantastic looking sauce, would have been great to see the final chicken! Thanks so much for taking part x

    1. Ah yes, the photo of the final dish - we were all knackered and grumpy, and I think there would have been cross words if I'd hung around taking photos, but there you go.

  2. Nice choice of book and a lovely dish. I know what you mean about boning chicken thighs. Whenever I've done that job I'm fine for the first two and seriously bored after that.

    1. Thanks Phil! The thing is, I know I wou dhave probably cheated and bought thigh fillets - and that would NOT have been the point.

  3. I had exactly the same problem choosing a book!
    The paprika chicken sounds good. One of those dishes where I might have to get the boys to strip before letting them eat. Hee hee - they can make sooo much mess with any dish that colour!

    1. It was tough wasn't it! Yes, definitely a clothes off job for smaller kids.

  4. You've inspired me to give Random Recipes a go. Loving the sound of Paprika Chicken.

    1. You should - it's a great blogging event/challenge and Dom's a great host.

  5. Sounds good, and I like the sound of it with rice too! :)

    1. I think rice would be better than potatoes to be honest

  6. Oh I have a very similar recipe that was handed down from my mum. Love chicken paprika and this looks lovely


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