Thursday, 29 May 2014

Low-Carb Paprika Chicken with Tomatoes, Green Beans and Olives

Low-Carb Paprika Chicken with Tomatoes, Green Beans & Olives 
An easy family dinner with gutsy tomato and olive flavours, freshened with snappy green beans. My fixation with excellent paprika  - both smoked and sweet - has not abated, and I can't get enough of this gorgeous ingredient. This dish is low in carbohydrates and suitable for anyone on a #LCHF or diabetic regime.

I'm sorry the picture is a bit fuzzy. I always snap pictures for this blog as I'm cooking the food, and that's usually in the late afternoon when the light is fading fast. This was demolished by my family before I had a chance to put some aside to photograph the next day.

Good tinned tomatoes are convenient, but they vary in quality and can be rather acidic, with a tinny taste, so I always use a large quantity of fresh ones in any tomato-based sauce, chucking in a tin for good measure. Tomatoes are packed with umami, and they are great for low-carb sauces because they reduce and thicken quickly.

I don't believe in peeling tomatoes for sauces, nor do I chop them. It's so easy to sling them into a blender or processor and whiz them to a pulp, and cherry tomatoes in particular are a breeze to liquidise because they're small enough to fit between the blades.

I have used both sweet paprika and smoked hot paprika in this recipe. The smoked paprika adds heavenly flavour, and it's well worth hunting for. You can find it at Woolworths, or order my favourite brand - La Dalia - from Yuppiechef. Use it sparingly though, as it is robust and can easily overpower the other ingredients.

A modest splash of cream at the end rounds out all the flavours, but you can use yoghurt instead - find tips for cooking with yoghurt here. I use leeks because I often can't face peeling onions, but if you don't have any to hand, you can use three onions, finely chopped.

Low-Carb Paprika Chicken with Tomatoes, Green Beans and Olives

8 chicken thighs and 8 drumsticks
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or olive oil, for frying
3 large leeks or 6 small ones (about 300 g)
1 x 500 g punnet ripe cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
½ cup (125 ml) water
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ cup (125 ml) white wine
1 x 410 g tin chopped Italian tomatoes
a pinch of sugar
2 bay leaves
a large sprig of thyme
salt and milled black pepper, to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) smoked hot paprika
2 tsp (10 ml) sweet paprika
1 x 300 g punnet slim green beans, topped, tailed and cut in half crossways
¾ cup (180 ml) pitted Calamata olives, or a mixture of green and black olives
4 Tbps (60 ml) cream

Trim any visible fat off the chicken pieces and set aside.

Some of the ingredients for Paprika Chicken.
Heat the oil in a large shallow pan, over a medium-high heat, and cook the chicken pieces, skin-side down and in two batches, for 4-5 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden. Take your time about this. Don't overcrowd the pan, and resist the temptation to poke or stir them - the skin will loosen from the bottom of the pan when it's ready.

Remove the chicken pieces - they will still be raw on their insides - and set aside on a plate.

While the chicken is frying, prepare the leeks by trimming off the dark-green upper parts and making a long horizontal slit three-quarters of the way through their lengths.  Fan out the ‘pages’ of the leeks under a cold running tap to rinse away any grit hiding in the outer leaves.  Now cut them into thick slices and set aside.

 Put the cherry tomatoes, vinegar and water into a liquidiser (or a food processor fitted with a metal blade) and whizz to a fairly fine pink purée.  If you don't have a liquidizer, chop them finely. Set aside.

Drain all but two teaspoons of fat from the pan, add the leeks and fry gently for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly softened and beginning to take on a little colour. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, without allowing it to brown.

Turn up the heat and pour in the wine.  As it bubbles furiously, use a wooden spatula to scrape away the golden residue on the bottom of the pan so it dissolves into the wine.  Tip in the reserved tomato/vinegar/water mixture, the tin of tomatoes, the sugar, bay leaves and thyme sprig. Cook over a medium-high heat, uncovered,  for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by a third and has thickened (see picture below).

When the tomato sauce has thickened, it's time to add the
paprika and the browned chicken pieces.
You can tell when the sauce is right by dragging a wooden spoon or spatula across the pan: if it forms a channel that closes reluctantly, it's ready.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add the two paprikas and return the chicken pieces to the pan, skin-sides up, along with any juices that have accumulated beneath them. Cover with a tilted lid and braise over a medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to the bone.

Now add the green beans, olives and cream, give the pan a good shake, and simmer, covered, for a further 4-5 minutes, or until the beans are bright green and just cooked through.

Serve immediately with (if you're on a low-carb regime) Cauliflower Mash or (if you're not) normal creamy mash, or rice.

Serves 8. 

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