Poulet au paprika

Chicken with paprika

This dish of chicken in a creamy paprika sauce can be as mild or spicy as you like. It is easy to prepare — total cooking time is just over half an hour — and only a few ingredients are needed. Top with your favorite herbs, for example dill and cilantro as shown in the photo, and serve over tiny pasta or rice, or on its own, accompanied by a salad.

For best results, make sure the paprika is fresh. If you happen to have Spanish smoked paprika on hand, it will add depth of flavor. As for the chicken, free-range or organic is best. I used a red onion, but a standard onion would also be fine.

The quantities below will serve two people.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (blancs de poulet)
1 red onion
2 cups (500 ml) water
2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. herbes de provence or dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt

freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 crushed cayenne peppers (optional)
1/4 lemon, seeds removed

1/2 cup (120 ml) crème fraîche or sour cream, or more as desired
a few sprigs of fresh dill, cilantro, parsley or chives

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Peel the onion, cut in half lengthwise and slice into very thin half-rounds.

Measure out 1 cup (250 ml) water and have it standing by.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil to sizzling in a large skillet. Add the onions, turn down the heat to medium high and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions have wilted and are starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Push the onions to one side of the skillet. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the other side, then add the chicken pieces. Cook for three minutes, flip, cook for three minutes more.

Push the chicken towards the onion and in the empty space add the paprika. Wait 10 seconds, then add the cup of water. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to incorporate the paprika into a sauce. Please note: it’s important to cook the paprika, but only very briefly — if you leave it too long, it can burn and turn bitter.

Now add the dried herbs and salt. Grind on some black pepper. If using cayenne, add it now. Squeeze the quarter-lemon over the pan. Add the additional cup of water. Stir.

Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. The sauce will reduce by about half.

You can pause the recipe at this point and resume 10 minutes before serving. In this case, reheat gently before continuing.

With the chicken at a simmer, stir the cream into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Simmer for 5 minutes more to thicken the sauce.

Serve over small pasta or rice, topped with the fresh herbs. Serves 2.

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