This Chicken Paprikash Lightens Up A Classic But Keeps The Big Flavor


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Washington Post

My sister brought me back a prime gift from her recent trip to Hungary: a fist-sized, linen sack stuffed with sweet paprika. Now I realize why it is such a celebrated spice. Comparing it to the plastic jar of generic paprika sitting in my pantry for who knows how long, it was more brilliantly red, aromatic and markedly sweeter tasting, without the bitter undertone I had not, until then, realized my usual one had.

Paprika, which is made from dried, ground peppers, is often categorized as sweet, hot or smoked, but it can vary as widely as peppers themselves. Regardless of provenance, along with rich color and savory flavor, the spice brims with health benefits. It's especially rich in carotenoids, which impart paprika's distinctive color, and polyphenols, plant compounds - both of which play a key role in preventing chronic disease.

Upon receiving this culinary treasure, my natural impulse was to cook the dish that was designed to put it front and center, Hungarian paprikash, a sumptuous pot of braised chicken in a creamy paprika sauce. My recipe here takes the lead from that traditional dish, but in a lighter, more vegetable-packed take.

To make it, you brown slices of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in olive oil, then transfer them to a plate to make room for heaps of sliced onion and colorful bell peppers. Once they soften, you add garlic, then return the chicken to the pan, along with a generous amount of the paprika, a bit of cayenne pepper and chicken broth. After a 10-minute simmer to cook the chicken through and meld the flavors, you stir in some yogurt to create a creamy, red-orange sauce with a lovely, gentle tang. (The traditional dish uses sour cream, which you could absolutely substitute here if you prefer. I chose chicken thighs because they stay moist and tender when braised, but you could swap them for sliced chicken breast. In that case, I suggest cutting the simmer time a bit so the chicken doesn't overcook.)

Served over egg noodles, or with a hunk of crusty bread, and garnished with a spray of parsley, this stew of tender chicken, peppers and onions in a luxuriously creamy, brilliant-red paprika sauce now ranks as one of my family's favorite meals. You can make it with whatever type of paprika you have on hand, but I think it is worth treating yourself to the Hungarian sweet kind for next-level flavor.

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And since it's the holiday season, keep in mind that the premium spice sure does make a nice gift.
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Chicken and Peppers With Creamy Paprika Sauce
4 servings
Total time: 45 mins

This sumptuous, quick-cooking stew of tender chicken with sweet strips of bell peppers and onions in a colorful paprika sauce, made creamy with a dollop of yogurt stirred in, is a lighter, more vegetable-packed take on a traditional Hungarian paprikash. While you can use any type of sweet paprika to make it, it is worth treating yourself to a jar of Hungarian paprika, which tends to be brighter in color, more aromatic and sweeter. Chicken thighs are ideal here because they stay moist and tender when braised, but you could swap them for breast if you prefer. In that case, cut the simmer time a bit so the chicken is just cooked through.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days; gently reheat over low heat until warmed through.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips

3/4 teaspoon fine salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large yellow onion (12 ounces), halved and thinly sliced

2 medium red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick strips

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed

1/2 cup plain full-fat yogurt

3 tablespoons lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Cooked egg noodles, for serving (optional)

STEPS

Put the chicken in a medium bowl, season with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and gently toss to combine.

In a large, deep skillet with a lid or in a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the chicken and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned but not cooked through, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a splash of water or broth to the pan if it seems dry. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with any accumulated juices, then add the paprika, cayenne and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt until incorporated. Serve garnished with parsley, over egg noodles, if desired.

Nutrition | Per serving (1 1/3 cup): 377 calories, 15g carbohydrates, 131mg cholesterol, 23g fat, 3g fiber, 30g protein, 6g saturated fat, 600mg sodium, 9g sugar

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian's or nutritionist's advice.

From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

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