Sometimes it takes a bit of desperation to try a food that you have convinced yourself that you don’t like. For me, it was cooked bell peppers. Until almost four years ago, I couldn’t stand them–even the smell of them cooking made me gag. Then, after our son Luc was born, my friend Katie brought over a dish that changed all that for me. Her recipe for Chicken Paprika came from The Big Book of Casseroles by Maryana Vollstedt, a Eugene cookbook author. Since that comforting postpartum supper, the dish has become a favorite of ours and one I look forward to making this time of year, when the local bell peppers finally, finally ripen before succombing to frost and rain. (What I finally realized is that it’s cooked unripened peppers I can’t stand.)
Here’s my adaptation of her recipe. I made it last with a 7 pound chicken and simply doubled everything.
Chicken Paprika with Red Bell Pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons paprika, divided
1 chicken (3 to 3-1/2 pounds), cut into serving pieces (reserve back and neck for making stock)
4 tablespoons oil or fat appropriate for frying: sunflower oil, ghee, lard, schmaltz
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-2″ squares
ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream, creme fraiche, or quark
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine flour, salt, and 1 teaspoon paprika in a wide, shallow bowl. Toss chicken pieces in mixture to coat and reserve excess flour. In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan, melt oil or fat over medium high-heat. Brown chicken, 5 to 10 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Reduce temperature to medium. Add onions and pepper and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining paprika, pepper, and remaining flour and stir until the flour coats the vegetables. Add stock and stir until thickened. Return chicken to pan, cover and bake until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. Blend in sour cream and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer. Serve with spaetzle, rice, or egg noodles.
Sweet corn fresh right from the cob has always been a summer favorite of mine, but I just tried Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for Baked Butter Corn for the first time recently and loved how it makes the most of the starchier corn of fall. This is such an easy way to prepare corn, I now it will become a regular part of my fall cooking repertoire. I may try it with frozen sweet corn in the winter, too.
My son loves fruit sauces…apple sauce, pear sauce, peach sauce…as a baby he lurved stewed dried apricots mashed into a sauce. When I had a bunch of pears to process last week, I originally planned to follow this recipe for Pear Butter, but Luc so liked what we had by the end of Step 2 that I just stopped and canned it up. Later, if I decide I still want some pear butter, I can always open up a quart or two of sauce and cook it down. Or, I can keep doing what I did this morning and making pear sauce muffins.
Spiced Pear Sauce Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 full size muffins
3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cups white pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup Rapadura or packed brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup unsweetened pear sauce
1 cup pecans or walnuts (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pan.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugar in a large bowl until combined well, then add butter, a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in pear sauce then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Stir in nuts and divide batter among muffin cups. Bake mini-muffins for 15 minutes, full-size muffins for 20 minutes. Cool on rack. Keeps for a day in an airtight container or freeze for a month.