Chicken Paprikash w/ Hot Buttered Spaetzle

With this recipe I should point out that I am neither German nor Hungarian in heritage. I am in fact Irish…and a massive lover of food (If you’ve ever seen me you’d be able to tell trust me!) Aside from baking, this love particularly includes comfort food.  You know the type of food- dishes crafted from seemingly humble ingredients and resulting in that sublime feeling of snug…content…”Hygge” to use the Nordic phrase.

This dish was one that on my first attempt I tentatively made my way through. Most of the recipes I researched commented that care needs to be taken with the paprika, if it’s dry cooked too long it can scorch giving the dish an underlying acrid taste. Next, care had to be taken when adding the soured cream/ cream mixture. If you dump it straight into the pan with the paprika mixture there’s a very high chance of it splitting and curdling the sauce, flecking it with gloopy, white nodules. Whilst it’s still edible it is no where on par with the velvety smooth, ochre sauce that you get by taking that little additional step of tempering the cold cream mixture with a few tablespoons of the hot paprika sauce.

Now, after making it a number of times, I can navigate the recipe with that intrinsic muscle memory that is so synonymous with cooking or baking comfort food dishes. It’s very easy to see why this dish has stood the test of time.

As well as the chicken paprikash I’ve included a recipe for spaetzle. For me the two go together like every cliched pairing you could think of. Spaetzle (“Little Sparrows) are toothy little dumplings of German origin. I first had these in a Bavarian restaurant in Vermont having ordered them not knowing what to expect. When they arrived I was prepared for something like pasta from the visual. I was more than pleasantly surprised upon first bite at how chewy they were, with an addictive density smothered in rich butter. A beautiful love affair was born!

Try these out- you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

Serves 4*

*for this dish I usually serve 1-2 drumsticks and 2 thigh pieces per person.

  • 8 drumstick portions of chicken
  • 8 thigh potions of chicken
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika (at a push you can use standard paprika but the Hungarian variety gives a much better flavour)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup soured cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy/ whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a jug, stir to combine the soured cream and heavy/whipping cream. Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated. Set aside until needed later
  3. In a large pan over a medium heat, brown the chicken drumsticks and thighs until golden brown. Remove and place in a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Place in the preheated oven until needed near the end of the recipe
  4. In the same pan as the chicken was cooked, add the onion sauté until softened, then add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and stir to deglaze the pan of chicken fronds
  5. Add the chopped garlic and thyme leaves and sauté with the onions for a few minutes until the garlic is lightly browned
  6. Off the heat stir in the paprika and stir to coat the pan contents
  7. Return the pan to the stove, add the chopped tomatoes and chicken broth. Cook over a medium heat until bubbling. Check and adjust seasoning to taste
  8. Whilst the paprika mixture cooks, to the jug of soured cream/cream mixture add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot paprika mixture and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the jug to the main pan of the paprika mixture and stir for a few minutes to fully incorporate and thicken. The paprika sauce should now be thick and bright orange in color
  9. Remove dish of chicken pieces from the oven and pour over the paprika sauce, covering and coating all the chicken pieces
  10. Return the dish of chicken pieces and sauce to the oven and continue to bake for a further 10mins. After this time check the chicken to be fully cooked (should be an internal temperature of 165degrees F)
  11. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped flat leave parsley and serve. Chicken paprikash goes particularly well with a side helping of hot buttered spaetzle (and I just happen to include it below!)

Hot Buttered Spaetzle

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk

Method

  1. In a jug, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley. Whisk to combine and make a well in the centre
  3. Pour in the egg/milk mixture and stir well until combined. The mixture will be quite thick and stretchy
  4. Cover and set the spaetzli batter aside for at least an hour at room temperature. (I usually prepare mine in the morning if I’m cooking them in the evening- a lengthy sitting of 3-4 hours. This helps the dough to develop both taste and texture)
  5. *This next bit depends entirely on what method you use to make you spaetzle. There are a number of gadgets that can be used for making spaetzle. These range from a sapetzle “press” (similar to a potato ricer) to a spaetzle “slider” (looks like a mandolin) but the method I use is with a spaetzle “lid and scraper”.
  6. Place large dollops of the reared batter on the lid and use the scraper to push the batter through. Admittedly this make take some more skill and dexterity but it’s what I’m used to. The main thing here is to use a method that you’re comfortable with.

    Spaetzle lid and scraper

  7.  Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Whilst this reaches boiling fill another large boil with cold water & ice and leave in close proximity.
  8. *Make the spaetzle according to your device method. With all the methods exercise immense caution as you’re working in close proximity to the boiling water
  9. (Lid and scraper method) Place the spaetzle lid over the pot of boiling water. Take a ladle full of batter and drop it onto the lid.
  10. Force the batter through the device. The batter will form droplets and drip in to the salted boiling water below and let them cook for 1 to 2 minutes until floating on the surface. Continue until all the batter is squeezed through the lid.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the large bowl of iced water
  11. Repeat until you have used up all the spaetzle batter
  12. In a large pan, head 5-6 tablespoons of butter until sizzling over a medium heat
  13. Drain the spaetzle of all water, add to the butter and toss to coat
  14. Continue to stir and toss over a medium heat until they start to get flecked with golden brown flecks
  15. Serve hot with chicken paprikash

• The spaetzli may be cooked a few hours in advance to the point where they are placed in the iced water. If you want to store them remove them from iced water, shake dry and place in a covered container in the refrigerator. I have made mine the day before, stored in the fridge and then cooked the evening of the following day. Still perfection!

Southern Comfort Dinner

I’ll say it now- I’m not a big fan of cheese dishes. Now that’s out of the way I will admit to having cravings for them on occasion. Specifically one dish- Mac and Cheese. The stalwart comfort food that’s good enough to dissuade even a turophobe like me. One evening I took a fancy to make mac and cheese. Along with fried chicken. Along with Southern buttermilk biscuits!
Pairing the cheesy pasta dish with fried chicken and how could I not be on board? Whilst doing my research on fried chicken I came across “Comeback Sauce”. Originating in Mississippi this dipping sauce is a spicy condiment guaranteed to have you licking your fingers and indeed “coming back” for more.
When put together all of this dishes are for me the ultimate comfort food dinner and well worth the effort. After posting about it on my social media I was surprised by the interest in it and after much feedback from you- here it is! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

4 Cheese & Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced bacon
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 4 cups dried macaroni elbow pasta
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 ground white pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup Velveeta processed cheese product
  • 2 cups freshly shredded Gouda (smoked can be used)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded sharp red cheddar
  • 1 cup fresh shredded Jarlesburg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesean
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly grease/ butter a large casserole dish ( I used 11″x 11″x 2 1/2″)
  2. In a frying pan or skillet fry the chopped bacon until lightly brown. Add the maple syrup and continue to fry until crispy. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plate and allow to cool. (When cool the bacon may stick together. Break up to smaller pieces if needed)
  3. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and return to pasta pot to keep warm. Lightly toss in olive oil to prevent clumping
  4. Combine the shredded cheeses and set aside until needed
  5. In a separate small bowl stir together the Parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs and melted butter. Set aside until needed
  6. Prepare the cheese sauce base. In a large pot melt the butter. Add in the flour and stir to coat in butter. Cook over a medium heat until golden.
  7. Gradually add in the milk, stirring constantly with a small whisk to prevent lumps
  8. Once all the milk has been added cook the sauce over a medium heat until bubbling. Cook for 2 minutes, again stirring constantly, until thickened
  9. Add in salt and pepper, and stir to mix
  10. Reduce heat to low, add in the Velvetta and stir to melt
  11. Once the Velveeta has melted, add in the shredded cheese mix in stages stirring between until each addition is melted. Once all the cheeses have been added continue to stir until smooth. Remove from the heat
  12. Add the prepared macaroni pasta and crispy bacon pieces and stir well to combine ensuring all the pasta is covered in the cheese sauce. Transfer to your prepared casserole dish
  13. Sprinkle the top of the pasta mix with the breadcrumb mix
  14. Bake in the prepared oven for between 20-25mins or until the crumbs are golden.

Southern Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Place the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and stir to well combined
  2. Add the cubed butter and cut into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture. Pour the buttermilk on top. Stir everything together until just about combined– don’t overwork the dough. The dough will look like very crumbly
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently mould it into a rough looking rectangle using your hands. Next fold one side into the centre, then the other side. Turn the dough so it’s long horizontally. Gently flatten. Repeat the folding again. Turn the dough so it’s long horizontally once more. Gently flatten. Repeat the folding one more time
  5. Gently roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles. Re-roll any scraps until you have 9-12 biscuits
  6. Arrange close together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Make sure they’re touching
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown on top.
  8. Remove from the oven and, if desired, brush with melted butter. Enjoy warm. When cool, cover tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

Buttermilk fried chicken

Ingredients

  • 12-16 chicken breast fillets
  • Canola oil for frying

Marinade

  • 4 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Flour seasoning

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Method

  1. Whisk together the buttermilk and dry ingredients and place in a shallow casserole dish
  2. Place the chicken pieces into the marinade and gently stir to coat. The pieces should at least be semi-covered in the liquid
  3. Cover and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge
  4. In another shallow dish or plate mix together the seasoned flour ingredients
  5. Remove the chicken pieces from the fridge, remove from buttermilk (do not remove any excess marinade) and dredge one at a time in the flour mixture. Press the mixture into the chicken whilst dredging. Again do not remove or shake off any excess. Leave the coated pieces to rest on a plate to one side whilst you heat your oil.
  6. Pour canola oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pan, so that oil only comes halfway up the pot. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 F (180 C). Add 4 pieces of chicken to the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Fry chicken for 4 minutes per side, adjusting the heat so it hovers between 280 F (145 C) and 300 F (150 C)
  7. Transfer chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain (and check for doneness by opening chicken or using a probe thermometer to read 175 F). Cover with foil to keep warm and continue frying other chicken pieces *if oil temperature drops due to frying process, simple reheat to original temperature
  8. Keep chicken pieces warm until ready to serve

Comeback Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2/3 Cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth and well combined
  2. Keep refrigerated until serving

#recipe Spiced Apple Crumble with parmesan and rosewater

This recipe provided an ideal use for some apples from our back garden. Quick and easy it’s an ideal comfort food for this time of year when the temperature takes a turn. Warming and comforting with the right amout of spice it’s fantastic with custrd or cream alike. The addition of both the rosewater and parmesan may seem a bit strange but bear with me. You won’t regret it! The rose water lifts flavour of the apple filling while the parmesan in the crumb topping adds a savory note. Just think of a cheeseboard with fruit on it!

Spiced Apple Crumble with parmesan and rosewater

Filling

1 kg apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoon rosewater eg Saveur de Maroc

1 tablespoon mixed spice

50g light brown sugar

Crumble topping

150g plain flour

100g light brown sugar

90g cold butter, cubed

25g rolled oats

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated

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Method

To make the filling

– Preheat the oven to 190C/170 fan/gas 5.

– Toss the apple pieces in the lemon juice, rosewater, mixed spice and light brown sugar until evenly coated.

– Transfer to a 10inch by 2 inch deep pie dish.

To make the topping

– In a large bowl combine the flour, light brown sugar, oats, parmesan and butter. Rub in with your finger tips until the mixture resmebles breadcrumbs.

– Sprinkle the crumb mixtureover the apple filling, gently pressing down where needed. Take care not to press it too tight as this will just make the crumble a solid topping- you dont wantthis.

– Bake in your preheated oven for 30-25 mins until the topping is golden. When you slide in a knife the apple should have softened and you should feel some give. If you prefer your filling softer, you can bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.

– Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

– Serve with custard, cream or ice cream and enjoy!