It’s difficult to pick out just one John Ringo book to recommend with this recipe. I’ve been reading his books for as long as I’ve been a Baen Barfly, and that’s coming up on fifteen years now. Given the nature of the dish itself, I have to say that reading the Kildar would be the best choice for this meal. For a change, you will be in the book fully, all senses engaged as your house fills with the smell of cooking and you taste your sauce to season it.
If you’re already a fan, a newer series begins with Under a Graveyard Sky, and this is simply the best zombie series I have ever read. Take all your old preconceptions, toss them with the scraps from the recipe, and read these. And if you’re dead broke and never heard of this Ringo Guy, then you can always start with a selection from the Baen Free Library (motto: the first taste is always free) and A Hymn Before Battle is superb action military science fiction.
There are, as most of you well know, many ways to make the same dish. No two cooks will take the same recipe and have it come out in the same way, although if you are careful as you follow it, it will be very close. Most recipes that aren’t based on certain chemical and physical properties (bread, leavening, meringue…) can be adjusted and tweaked by additions, substitutions, and subtractions. I’m talking about this to say that I’ve always worried about this series. I’m asking people to give me a dish. Some also offer recipes, others just name a favorite and I take it from there. The probability of being given the same dish is fairly high.
I asked John Ringo for a dish, and he promptly asked if I had already done chicken paprikash. I had, but assured him that everyone makes a different recipe…
This is what he sent me:
- Start with a bottle of white wine, not oaky, Sauvignon blanc or Johannesburg riesling works nicely. Pour a glass and sample to make sure it’s the right taste and clarity.
- Okay, pour another glass and we begin…
- I usually wing it.
Once I had stopped chuckling, I started on the winging. Maybe also on the wine, but this blog is about the recipe. Working with the Paprikash idea, and adding a Georgian (the country not the state) twist to it, I came up with the following.
(Georgian Paprika Garlic Chicken)
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 med pepper (I used Serrano, for more heat you could go with jalapeno or habanero) seeded.
- 1/2 c water
- 1/4 c cream
- 3 chicken breasts, large
- 1 tbsp Smoked Spanish Paprika (yes, the smokes makes a big difference)
- a handful of thyme sprigs
- 1/2 c white wine
- 1/2 c cream
Start the oven at 400 deg F. I was making roast cauliflower for a side dish, and I put it in about 15 minutes before the chicken went in. I’d cut the cauliflower into florets and tossed with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, and several (lost count of how many) garlic cloves in addition to a couple sprigs of thyme.
In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil and butter. Using the canola oil raises the smoke point (don’t use olive oil, which has a very low smoke point). Brown the chicken on both sides. While it is browning, put the garlic, pepper, water, and cream into the blender and puree the sauce. When the chicken is browned, sprinkle the paprika over it more or less equally. Tuck the thyme sprigs around it. Then pour the liquid sauce over the breasts and slide the whole thing into the hot oven. Set timer for twenty minutes.
When chicken is cooked through (check with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, it’s ready to come out at 160 deg f) remove from the skillet to a plate. Place skillet back on a med-high burner, and whisk in the wine and cream. Bring to a boil and reduce until sauce is thick. Check your cauliflower, if it is fork-soft, remove from the oven.
I sliced the chicken breasts before serving, into 1/2″ thick medallions, put them on a bed of fresh baby spinach, and spooned sauce over the meat and greens. We normally don’t eat a whole breast, so this recipe will feed 6 adults, or two adults and a hungry teenager. YMMV, and unless your little ones are well-trained on the matter of garlic and a little heat from the pepper they may not touch it.
This is a garlicky dish, and the smokiness of the paprika I used added a lot of flavor and smell to it. The whole house was redolent of it. We were all but drooling by the time I got it on the plate, and we ate far too much of it. The First Reader says it is good, but overwhelming. Strongly flavored. He also says I can make this again any time I want to. We had a similar dish a few days later, only with pork chops…
You can find the index page of Eat This While You Read That! recipes here.