Last fall we visited the Iberian peninsula. If you haven’t been to either Spain or Portugal, it should definitely be on your list, and soon. The food there is so delicious. The flavors so bright and un-muddy. This is what inspired this chicken. It took me back to Sevilla. Whenever we travel to the Old World, we always eat “better” (and less, thankfully) when we return. The Goddess, bless her little heart, falls into culinary ruts, or comfort zones. So it’s always good for her to get out a bit. It makes her a better cook.
The Spaniards, as well as the Portuguese, use smoked paprika prodigiously, but judiciously. Does that make any sense at all? They use it a lot, but they don’t necessarily use too much. What both of those cultures do with fish, is exhilarating. Of course, the fish is so fresh it practically jumps off your plate, and that makes a lot of difference. They rely on the fish, or chicken or pork, etc. to shine, not the seasonings. And, bless her heart, The Goddess can be a bit heavy-handed with seasonings…she’s working on this issue. So, this dish relies on that very lovely smoked sweet paprika, or pimentón. It is no longer difficulty to find it in the US, and do purchase the paprika that comes from Spain (or Portugal, though that is more difficult to find). It is just better. It comes in little cans, which helps preserve both it’s color and flavor.
I decided I wanted to let the thighs marinate for a couple of days, so I put them in a resealable plastic bag, then dropped in the orange zest, a little frozen orange juice concentrate, some smoked paprika, as well as “regular” paprika, cumin, garlic granules, salt and some lemon juice. I then use the bag, or usually just put my hands on the chicken, and smear everything around. If you can use the bag, to sort of push and pull the chicken around, then all of the seasoning will be on the chicken and not your hands. Push as much air as you can out of the bag, seal it and put it in the fridge. I left mine in for 2 days. Every time I would go into the fridge, I would just flip the bag over. When I was ready to cook the chicken, I removed the bag from the fridge about an hour before I was going to put it in the oven. For the sauce, sauté the onion and peppers in the olive oil over medium heat, until they are limp. Add the raisins, wine, orange juice concentrate, water, powdered chicken base, sherry vinegar, bay leaf, and honey; give it a good stir. Lay the thighs, skin side up, on top of the onion mixture. I usually do a very light dusting of smoked paprika. Note that paprika can burn, so keep an eye on it. If it browns too quickly, lay a piece of foil on top. Roast until done (165°F), about 30-40 minutes. When the chicken is done, if you feel the sauce needs to reduce a bit, just put the chicken thighs on a plate, and place the skillet over high heat. Let it boil until it becomes a bit syrupy, but not dry. You want there to be some liquid. Taste and correct the seasoning, then serve. I like to serve these with saffron rice with peas, Spanish Green Beans and spoon some of the onion/sauce over the rice. Some good bread on the side is always welcome. Bon provecho.
Spanish-Style Chicken with Orange, Onions and Peppers
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Grated zest from 1/2 orange
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- 2-3 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1/2 cup white raisins
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons powdered chicken base
- 4 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- Pinch cayenne (to taste—optional)
- Paprika, to dust thighs
Place the chicken thighs in a resealable plastic bag. Add the zest, lemon juice, frozen orange juice concentrate, spices and salt to the bag. Seal; shake and massage the chicken, using the bag to move the thighs around, until thoroughly coated (you can use your hands, but this works well). Remove as much air as possible from the bag, reseal and place the fridge for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days. When ready to prepare, remove the chicken from the fridge, about an hour before you’re planning of roasting them. Heat a heavy skillet (cast iron), over medium heat. Place the oil, onion and pepper strips in the hot skillet. Sauté until partially cooked and beginning to be translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the sauce ingredients, except the additional paprika. Stir to thoroughly combine. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and lay on top of the onion mixture. Lightly dust the thighs with paprika, if you wish. Place in a preheated 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove the skillet from the oven (use caution–the handle is screaming hot!) and place the chicken on a plate; let rest for at least 5 minutes. If you feel the sauce should be thicker, place over medium-high heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. The sauce should be very moist, but not too runny. Serve the chicken with rice or potatoes, a spoonful of the saucy veggies and some green beans.
NOTE: You may use chicken breast (bone-in, skin-on are best) instead of the thighs. The cooking time will probably be less. Feel free to add a tablespoon or so of capers to the veggies mixture, just before placing the thighs on top; continue with the recipe.
Spanish-Style Chicken with Orange, Onions and Peppers Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.