I am not that great at celebrating Halloween. Truthfully, I dress up every day…or at least every day that I go into public. Also, I earn my living making masks (and puppets) for and with small children. So it is hard for me to get especially worked up about Halloween. I usually end up cooking at home. Surprise!
In the ramp up to Halloween last year, I listened to a number of classic horror audio books (while cooking). I did not like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Chapter one is the travel journal of Jonathan Harker as he begins his travels into the Carpathian mountains with no idea of the terrors that the trip will bring. Within the first few paragraphs he describes his dinner on the first night of his travels.
“I had for Dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. Memorandum: Get recipe for Mina. I asked the waiter, and he said it was called Paprika Hendl and that as it was a national dish I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians.”
I like a book that starts talking about food early on. I also like paprika. I find both the color and flavour (particularly of smoked hot Spanish paprika) thrilling. I started looking for a good recipe for paprika roasted chicken, with the thought that it might become my traditional Halloween meal. A couple of months later, the most delicious recipe for Pimentón Roast Chickens and Potatoes appeared on one of my favourite food blogs, Lottie and Doof by way of Bon Appetite.
So, this Halloween I am making Pimentón Roast Chicken, which I think is quite similar to Chicken Hendl except that it is not at all dry. In fact this chicken is rubbed with a salt, paprika and garlic paste that forms and amazing crust on the skin. When I poked the thermometer into the thigh to see if it was cooked the crust cracked and I realized that the chicken inside was basically being poached in its own juices! It is very moist. The original recipes are for two baked chickens, which would be great for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any dinner part really. I just made one chicken to eat by my self while everyone else dresses up and catches cold at the Halloween Parade. I know, lame, and yet I am totally content!
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
- 1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
- one 3 1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken
- 1 large bunch fresh thyme
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for the potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for the potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
- Smoked paprika (for dusting)
- Rinse and VERY thoroughly dry chicken.
- Mix garlic, salt, oil, and both paprikas in a small bowl and blend well. Using your hands, smear paste all over outside of chickens, rubbing to coat the skin. It will be clumpy, don’t worry. Place 1 bunch of thyme inside the cavity of the bird. Chill, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or overnight (for more flavor). It is really worth it to let your chicken sit overnight.
- Let the chicken stand at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. If paste has clumped, rub to evenly distribute. Preheat oven to 500°F.
- While the oven preheats, cut each potato in half lengthwise, then lengthwise into 4 thick wedges (steak-fry style). Place in a large roasting pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil on top and, using your hands, toss well to coat. Spread potatoes in a single layer.
- Place the chicken atop potatoes in roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn potatoes. Reduce oven heat to 425°F. Continue roasting the chicken and potatoes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thighs registers 165° F, 20-35 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving chicken. Keep potatoes warm in oven until chicken is carved and ready to be served. Sprinkle the potatoes with parsley and scallions. Arrange the chicken on top of potatoes. Dust lightly with smoked paprika and serve.
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