I’ll never say no to adding another chicken recipe to the weeknight repertoire. Enter my Roast Chicken with Paprika and Bay – your new favourite way to cook chook.
Liberally basted in a paprika chilli butter and roasted with a bay leaf or two until golden in this beautiful Le Creuset Signature cast iron roaster, this recipe is full of attention-grabbing flavour. The combination of Spanish smoked paprika, fresh chilli, garlic and bay is perfect if one is not in the mood to struggle with side dishes – the chicken is ideally served with a simple green salad and lots of crusty bread. The butter left in the bottom of the roaster alone is worth making this tonight. It’s time to roll up one’s sleeves and get mopping!
The key ingredient here is undoubtably Spanish smoked paprika. Stronger in flavour than it’s Hungarian counterpart, Spanish paprika is made from pimento peppers and known as Pimentón de la Vera after the region in which the peppers are grown. Picked by hand, the peppers are then smoke-dried over oak for a fortnight. An essential seasoning in everything from paella to Patatas Bravas, Spanish paprika’s strength of spice depends on how fiery the peppers used to make it were. Here I’ve used La Chinata sweet smoked paprika – found here in South Africa at speciality delis and grocers. Go sparingly on the bay leaves though – I’d only use two – as the aim is to provide the chicken with a subtle fragrance rather than conflicting flavours.
I’ve also taken advantage of the surprising late Autumn glut of cayenne chillies my vegetable garden has yielded up and added them to the butter mixture. Speaking of which, while I acknowledge that this particular version of roast chicken takes on decidedly Mediterranean undertones, I’ve opted for butter over olive oil as I wanted to incorporate a rich fat base to cut through the spice. And for the fact that butter always seems to keep chicken deliciously juicy.
Roast Chicken with Paprika and Bay
Prep time: 15 mins /Cook time: 1 hour /Serves: 4-6
You will need:
- an organic chicken, about 1 – 1.5kgs
- 250g salted butter at room temperature
- 10ml Spanish smoked paprika
- 4 cayenne chillies, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Coarse ground sea salt
- 2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
- 500ml dry white wine
- The juice of a lemon
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Clean the chicken, pat it dry with paper towel and set aside. In a bowl, combine the butter, paprika, chopped chillies and garlic. Use a spoon to roughly mash the ingredients together and season with salt. Here’s the fun bit – use your fingers to rub the paprika butter all over the chicken. Loosen the skin over the breast and push butter into the resulting pocket as this ensures a juicy roast. Any leftover butter should be smeared liberally over the entire bird. Don’t be shy!
Place the chicken in a roasting dish and fill the base with the wine and lemon juice. This aids in steaming the chicken while it cooks. Pop the chicken into the oven and roast at 220°C for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken in some of the cooking liquid, lower the temperature to 180°C and return to the oven for a further 40 minutes, basting again at leisure. When the chicken is ready, the skin should be golden and crispy and the liquid in the bottom of the roaster thickened and syrupy.
Naturally the latter is the best part of all. Use fingers to dip hunks of crusty bread into all that smoky, spicy butter. And perhaps have a bit of chicken too.