Chicken is marinated in smoked paprika and olive oil, then stuffed with olives, orange zest and garlic and grilled over a bed of vegetables and orange slices. This dish brings to life some classic Spanish flavors.
It doesn’t matter how older and ‘wiser’ I get, each January I see the same pattern unfold. The first week, it usually goes like this….my brand new planner beckons to me, an analogy for a fresh start, and the promise of helping me follow through with the many resolutions that I’ve told myself I’ll keep. The Christmas tree, still bidding its time in my living room, hasn’t shed its festive sparkle yet. However, as the second week of January rolls in, a couple of resolutions have already been bent, the usual routine has started to catch up with us, and the Christmas tree and crib have still not been packed up. I can almost feel the tree squirming uncomfortably in its spot, murmuring on behalf of itself and all the decorations, “Umm.. can we just go home to the cellar now?”.
And it doesn’t help that memories of our mini-vacation in Lisbon and Madrid are fresh in my mind, and giving me a full-blown case of post-vacation blues. Last week, after we got back from vacation, and unpacked and unwrapped some of the souvenirs we got back from our holiday, the first thing I wanted to do was to open up this beautiful tin of sweet smoked paprika.
This dish, which made its way to our Saturday lunch menu, was inspired from an Alton Brown recipe. I love how simple ingredients are used to amplify the flavor of chicken and the vegetables. The chicken is marinated in smoked paprika and olive oil, stuffed with orange zest (the original recipe uses lemon zest), olives and garlic and then grilled on a rack over a bed of vegetables (I used carrots and clementines, while the classic Alton Brown recipe calls from potatoes and onions). The carrots and clementines are cooked in the drippings from the chicken sitting just above it. The chicken meanwhile, crisps up beautifully. So simple, yet so effective!
We had this dish with a side salad of red quinoa and cucumber, while steadfastly ignored the Christmas tree in the living room. That perhaps, is a task for another day, and will need a good glass of port for accompaniment.
- 8 Chicken thighs and legs, bone-in and skin on
- 2 heaped tablespoons smoked paprika (preferably sweet smoked paprika)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 6-8 green olives, finely chopped
- 2 small clementines (or 1 medium sized orange)
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F.
- Clean the chicken thighs and legs and pat them dry on a paper towel
- In a ziplock bag, combine the paprika, oilve oil and salt.
- Add the chicken pieces to the bag, seal the bag, and and coat them well in the marinade by tossing the pieces in the bag.
- Zest the clementines or orange, and keep the zest aside. Then slice the oranges finely and keep the slices aside.
- In a bowl, combine the orange zest, chopped olives, minced garlic.
- Get the marinated chicken pieces out of the bag, and with your fingers, gently create a space between the chicken skin and the meat.
- Stuff the zest-garlic-olive mixture under the skin and keep aside.
- In a baking tray or roasting pan lined with foil, scatter the sliced carrots and the orange slices.
- Place a grilling rack right over the baking tray, and place the chicken pieces on the grill, so that the juices from the chicken drip down on the carrots and orange slices as they cook.
- Transfer the grill rack and the tray into the oven and grill for around 50 minutes in the oven, until the chicken skin crisps up well.
- At the halfway mark, flip the chicken over so that it cooks evenly.
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