May 12, 2007

Chicken with Smoked Sweet Paprika

I received a parcel from the lovely Emma of Laughing Gastronome as the part of NZBBP-Easter Edition last time, and I found out that smoked sweet paprika she sent with the other goodies was absolutely taken place in my kitchen and is very much used every now and then

The flavour reminds me of a place by the beach that I once visited with my parents. The ocean was wide and the waves were high and huge. I remember when I plunged into the water, I felt sore under my arms as the saltiness of water rubbed against my skin. There was a village of fishermen not far from where we had a picnic that time. My mum bought a nice brown sea fish from that village I can't recall what it is now. The smell of the smoked sweet paprika on the chicken reminds me of the smell of that fish. So earthy, so humble, and so ashy.

I am interested in hangi and yet haven't had a chance to experience it. I can believe that the goodness derived from such a wonderful smoke emerged from the earth will bring out the most flavour of the vegetables and meat above it.

This kind of cooking is similar to our habit long way back when we were all kids and loved to be in the garden at harvest time. My father planted almost any vegetables which may be cooked on daily basis, so my mother would just go to the market to buy red meat. We didn't have cows or buffalos but we had a small house of chooks which were usually festived for Ied el Fitr. My father grew kumaras (different types from Maori's) which has yellowish skin and purple flesh together with another variety which has the same skin but has orange flesh rather than purple or white (Maori's have purple skin and white flesh with sometimes purple dots in the middle). He also grew cassavas with also different varieties: a few patches with white flesh and another few with buttery. So, yes I was grown in the middle of all homegrown greens in my life.

At harvest time, we the kids, used to pull out the smallest cassavas and kumaras which then were stored in our secret place (just under the house, really). Then, in the evening when the grown-ups were making bonfire, especially on weekends, the kids were busy taking out the treasures from the secret place. There would be an exciting moment for us as we would be allowed to dig a hole, put the ambers in it, then pile the cassavas and kumaras on, and covered them with more ambers. The earth would become really hot which would then cook the vegetables. Oh, I don't know if I will be able to experience it again.

Well, at modern age like today, there would be any jars of smoked goodies available. It's not like so much an experience to do it ourselves, but it's more handy this way. Even the hint of the flavour would help us to taste it.

Chicken with Smoked Sweet Paprika

4 chicken legs,
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped,
1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped,
2 tsps smoked sweet paprika,
a good grind of black peppercorns,
sea salt,
a dash of olive oil to marinade

Clean, wash and trim the chicken, pat dry. Mix together all the ingredients in a little bowl, then pour over the chicken. Give a gentle rub, cover, and set aside for at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 180C. Arrange the chicken on the roasting pan. Bake and basting occasionally with the juice until cooked through. Serve hot.


Emma said...

Oh yum, and such evocative descriptions!

Chris said...

lovely post! I am going to have to try this one for my mom next weekend, if I can. We are traveling to Hungary soon and she is not a huge fan of Paprika. I am trying to get her to adapt her tastes! :)

Arfi Binsted said...

Emma-hehehe thanks to you!!

Chris-Wow, have a good trip to Hungary and good luck with the paprika!! hugs.