One of my favorite bloggers (and people!) is Erika Kerekes from In Erika’s Kitchen. A couple of months ago, Erika posted a super simple recipe– just three ingredients. Erika said the flavor was reminiscent of chicken wrapped in bacon. It was so easy, I just had to try it.
Fast forward to today– Erika’s Chicken with Smoked Paprika has become one of my go-to recipes for those evenings when I just don’t feel like cooking. Yes, it happens, even to me! Let’s face it, we all get busy and tired and stressed. Having a recipe like this in your repertoire makes life just a little bit easier. It tastes great, uses three simple ingredients, and the prep takes only a couple of minutes. Really. Two minutes!
Erika’s recipe uses boneless skinless chicken thighs; they have more natural moisture than breasts. For those of you who like using boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs, I’ve included a modification. It will take a bit longer (breast meat tastes better when it’s had a chance to marinate), and it requires a little bit of olive oil to keep it from drying out under the broiler. But it’s a great alternative, and turns out really juicy if you follow the instructions carefully. The cooked breasts are perfect for slicing over a fresh salad for a protein and flavor boost.
Not all smoked paprika is created equal. Look for one that smells smoky and strong; a good smoked paprika has a mesquite-like essence that is unmistakable. I used Spice Islands Smoked Paprika for this recipe, and it was terrific. It’s OU certified for those of you who are keeping kosher. If you’ve never bought the spice before and are hesitating, wondering if you’ll ever use it again, not to worry– I’ve become a bit obsessed with it lately, so I’ll be posting several recipes that use it in the next few months. It’s worth the purchase, especially if you enjoy smoky grilled flavors.
If you like this recipe as much as I do, make sure you go give Erika’s blog a look. She’s an ace in the kitchen and a really nice person to boot.
Note: Since posting this recipe, I have adjusted the seasoning. Previously the recipe used garlic salt, which can vary in terms of saltiness from brand to brand. I’ve adjusted the seasoning to use garlic powder and salt separately, which gives you more control over the salt level (and garlic level!).
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Smoked Paprika Chicken
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp salt (you can use less if salt sensitive, but don't cut it completely - the salt is a key component of the flavor here)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, (for chicken breasts) - plus 1 tbsp for brushing the baking sheet
For Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- Preheat the broiler on high. Set a rack in the oven at least 6 inches below the flame. If you put the rack right under the flame, the chicken will burn on the outside before it's cooked through. In my oven, placing the rack on the second tier works best. Yours may be different.
- Brush a baking sheet evenly with olive oil (about 1 tbsp to cover the sheet) and lay the chicken thighs out flat. In a small bowl, stir together the smoked paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Sprinkle boths sides of all the thighs generously with the seasoning, completely covering the surface of the chicken.
- Broil the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side, until the thighs are cooked through and have developed a nice crust. A little blackening on the edges is ok and will give it a "grilled" flavor. Broilers tend to vary in terms of strength; if your chicken seems to be burning or cooking too fast, move the rack down a notch and continue broiling until fully cooked.
- Once the chicken has cooked through (internal temperature of 160 degrees F), serve immediately.
For Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- In a small bowl, combine smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and 3 tbsp olive oil to create a smooth paste.
- Trim chicken breasts of excess fat and tendons.
- Place the chicken breasts in a line on a layer of plastic wrap, spaced about 2 inches apart. Cover them with another layer of plastic wrap, so that the breasts are sandwiched between two layers of plastic.
- Use a mallet to gently pound out the chicken breasts until they are an even thickness all the way across and about 1 1/2 times their original size. This will allow the breasts to cook more evenly under the broiler.
- Brush a baking sheet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet. Paint each breast on both sides with a thin, even layer of the smoked paprika paste. Let the breasts stand for 20 minutes to allow the flavor to infuse the meat.
- Place a rack at least 6 inches below your broiler and preheat the broiler. In my oven, placing the rack on the second tier works best. Yours may be different.
- Place the chicken under the broiler and let it broil for about 6-7 minutes until a crust begins to form around the edges. If your chicken seems to be burning or cooking too fast, move the rack down a notch.
- Flip the breasts with a pair of tongs. If the breasts appear to be dry after you turn them, baste them with a little olive oil. A little blackening here and there is ok and helps the flavor. Let the breasts continue cooking under the broiler for another 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through (internal temperature of 160 degrees F).
- Let the breasts rest for a minute or two before serving to allow the juices to evenly distribute through the meat. Serve.