What’s the one spice you add to almost everything?
For sweet dishes, I’m obsessed with cinnamon. I add it to my morning oats, smoothies, cookies, cakes, muffins, you name it. I’ve even added it to savory dishes such as spaetzle or curry.
For savory dishes, I swoon over paprika. Well, that and garlic and salt, but those are more cooking essentials, aren’t they? Out of the options of oregano, thyme, turmeric, and other spices, I reach for the paprika most often. I generously sprinkle it on roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, baked chicken, squashes, pastas, rice bowls, pretty much everything excluded from breakfast (unless breakfast happens to consist of eggs and sausage/bacon).
Despite my obsession with paprika, I never had made nor sampled chicken paprikash until just last month. I even spent a week in Budapest and never tried this popular Hungarian stew (as best as I remember: when most of the menus are in Hungarian, you just point and hope for the best).
I’ve mentioned a few times that one of the Christmas gifts Ryan gave me last year was a copy of Cook’s Illustrated The Science of Cooking. This now-coffee-stained (what good book doesn’t get stained with coffee?) tome of all things cooking and baking has earned its place as my ultimate culinary resource. I learned about double leaveners from it, I mastered homemade whole wheat sandwich bread from its tips, and I flip through its pages when both my imagination and Pinterest leave me unsure of what to cook for dinner. In was in such a scenario of being at loss of what to cook one night that led me to try a recipe of chicken paprikash.
Ryan and I frequently eat variations of the same few meals, including chicken and brown rice. Such repetition only appears boring, for chicken and brown rice may just be the most versatile healthy meal on the planet. Since it’s so universal, nearly every culture presents their unique version of this dish, such as butter chicken curry over brown basmati rice and tahini-drizzled chicken shawarma over rice.
So naturally, we loved the chicken paprikash the first time I made it, but there was one issue with the recipe. As delicious as it is, my stomach does not respond well to tomatoes, which are a key ingredient in traditional chicken paprikash. After my stomach issues at the Portland Marathon (and throughout training), I paid closer attention to what irritated my sensitive stomach, beyond the obvious beans and high-lactose dairy, and realized that acidic tomatoes leave my stomach raging against me. So olive oils sauces and pestos replaced marinara for pastas, spaghetti squash, and pizza (not that it was much of a replacement, as I prefer the delicate taste and texture of olive oil and garlic over chunky and heavy tomato sauce), and a flavorful red pepper puree assumed the role of sauce-making in this roasted red pepper chicken paprikash recipe.
And to be honest? The red pepper puree make chicken paprikash even more lick-your-bowl-clean delectable. The smokiness of the roasted red pepper complements and elevates the complex spiciness of the paprika while the texture of the sauce emphasizes the tenderness of the chicken.
If you’re short on time during the workweek (and who doesn’t appreciate an easy meal during a busy time of year?), this roasted red pepper chicken paprikash is easy to prepare in advance. You can cook your rice ahead of time (I usually bake up a batch at the start of the week), cook your chicken beforehand (or use leftover meat from a whole roasted chicken, which is what I did), and roast and puree the peppers prior to making this. All you have to do for dinner is make the sauce then!
- 2 red bell peppers
- Salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup brown rice
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 4-5 ounces each
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour*
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Optional: Plain Greek yogurt for topping
- Heat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the whole red peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, rotating the peppers every 10 minutes.
- When the skins are charred, remove from the oven and let cool.
- Peel the skins and stems off of the peppers and remove the seeds. Add the peppers to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add salt to taste.
- While cooking the red peppers, bring the water to a boil. Once you remove the red peppers from the oven, reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Combine the water and rice in a casserole dish, cover, and bake for 40 minutes. When done, remove from heat and fluff the rice.
- While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute, fry, or braising pan. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on one side, flip, and cook for another five minutes. Remove from the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
- Thinly slice the onion and add to the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft. Thinly slice the green bell pepper, add to the pan, and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the flour and paprika to the pan and stir to coat the vegetables. Let cook for one minute, then add the wine and scrap any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the red pepper puree and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return the chicken to the pan and submerge it in the sauce. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and tender. (If using pre-cooked chicken, you can reduce the simmer time to 10-15 minutes).
- Serve the paprikash over the rice and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt if desired.
- *For a gluten-free dish, you can substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour or cornstarch.
- **If you have leftover puree, use it for pasta sauce, soups, or sauce for meat.
- You can cook the rice, chicken, and red pepper puree up to three days ahead of time for quicker preparation. This dish reheats well, which means it makes for great leftovers or can be made entirely ahead of time.
- You can easily scale this meal to feed more people by proportionally increasing the ingredients.
I’ll be linking up with Hello to Fit, Fit Foodie Mama, Fairyburger, and Chocolate Runner Girl for Foodie Friday! Be sure to check out all of the delicious recipes, and thank you to the wonderful ladies for hosting the link up!
Like this recipe? Find more healthy recipes for runners plus tips for cooking and meal planning in my e-cookbook, Eat to Run: 50+ Recipes to Fuel Your Fitness Without Breaking the Bank!
What’s your go-to dinner combo?
Either chicken and rice or chicken/beef and a baked potato. I could never tire of those meals.
What foods have you had to eliminate from your diet?
What spices/seasonings do you use all of the time in cooking and baking?
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