Because of all the dishes I make and write about, many times conversations with people will gravitate towards cooking and food. I don’t feel that it necessarily has to be that way, especially since I have so many other interests, but people do love food and so it goes.
During once such conversation, a friend and I were discussing recipes for deviled eggs. I don’t really have one that’s a go-to thing. I open a different cookbook each time and prepare whatever hits my whim for that day. My friend was in the same boat, but she said something that stopped me mid-conversating as she talked about sprinkling paprika over the eggs before serving them.
“Paprika doesn’t do anything but add pretty color anyway,” was her comment. “Right?” She must have seen my jaw sitting on the floor.
“Have you ever tasted paprika?” I asked. I admit; it was a set-up. If she had tasted it before, she wouldn’t have commented that it just added pretty color. Heck, if she’d smelled it before she’d know that.
I smell and taste everything. There’s not much more disgruntling than making up a batch of corn bread only to have to throw it away because you didn’t check to see if the corn flour had gone a little south (get it; south, corn bread?). Not that I’m speaking from experience.
Paprika is one of those weird spices that seems to be used as much as a sight-enhancing spice as it is a flavor-adding one, which is unfortunate. I have four bottles of paprika in my cupboard right now. One is from a grocery store. It’s been pushed to the back because I also have a container of paprika that a friend brought home from Hungary. It came with a bottle of paprika oil as well. Wow, oh wow.
If you want to smell the difference between paprika and paprika, c’mon over.
The fourth bottle of the spice I have is smoked paprika. Its aroma is rich and heady and it’s the star of this dish.
Because the chicken for this dish is bone-in, the cooking time is a little higher, but the prep only takes 20 minutes, which makes this recipe a star in my book. It’s the kind of dish that is perfect for days when you come in after being out for hours and want to throw something healthy together quickly.
The cooking time isn’t as important as making sure you’re not standing on your sore feet in the kitchen for forty minutes chopping and mincing aromatics and herbs. Ever had an evening like that?
All you need is some good smoked paprika, chopped thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper mashed together to make a paste. The paste gets rubbed under the skin of the chicken as well as on top. Double-dosing means that the flavor will permeate the meat instead of it all just sitting and sizzling on top of the skin. I like that.
After the paprika paste is distributed, slide thin slices of lemon under the skin and bake. That’s it.
When Hubby says, “Oh, Pottsy,” it means we’re alone and it’s none of anyone’s business. When Hubby says, “Oh, Mommy,” it means that Dudette’s with us and something really good has happened that he wants the young one and me to know about. This dish got a big “Oh, Mommy” out of my man. I knew it would. He’s a huge lemon chicken fan. The fact that the lemon not only bastes the chicken from inside the skin but becomes so tender that it can be eaten along with the meat was a huge score. He loved it.
I thought that the smoked paprika was a bit overwhelming, but that could well be because I didn’t use as much chicken as the recipe called for and may have overloaded the pieces I did have. Just maybe. I scraped some off and enjoyed it more once I had done that. Dudette didn’t want much to do with it at all. I figured that would be the case and had kept a leg with just salt and pepper for her. Score one for Mom.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
If you like the strong flavor of smoked paprika, don’t do anything different. It’s awesome just like it is. If you need it dialed back a bit, like I do, I’d reduce the amount of smoked paprika and half the olive oil, leaving everything else the same.
1/4 cup smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil $
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper $
5 pounds assorted chicken pieces $
2 lemons, thinly sliced $
Garnishes: lemon slices, fresh thyme sprigs
Stir together first 5 ingredients to form a paste.
Spread half of paprika mixture evenly underneath skin of chicken pieces. Place 1 to 2 lemon slices underneath skin on top of paprika mixture. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on a wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan or 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan. Rub remaining paprika mixture evenly over skin.
Bake at 425° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portions registers 165°. Let chicken stand 5 minutes; lightly brush with pan juices just before serving. Garnish, if desired.