June 20, 2009

Smoky and Spicy Roasted Chicken with Polenta

I love my mom's roasted chicken with spicy Hungarian paprika and wanted to recreate it myself. But I couldn't find Hungarian paprika at my local market (and I didn't feel like trekking to Fairway, WF, etc) so I used a combination of smoked paprika and New Mexican red chile powder instead. I am a big fan of skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs; they stay moist and have a lot of flavor. But you can use any parts you like. I am planning to buy chicken at the greenmarket some time soon (ie, when I get my little old lady cart to wheel everything home!), but for now I've been buying Murray's chicken because it has the 'certified humane' designation.

The paprika and red chile impart a beautiful color and flavor to the chicken and pan juices, and the onions become meltingly tender and flavorful too. Polenta (roughly ground cornmeal) is my new favorite starch; I love the creamy-grainy texture and it goes with everything. It's not hard to make, but it does require attention -- you need to whisk it often, though not constantly, while it's cooking (no leaving the room!). But I think it's worth it. Mashed potatoes would also be a great accompaniment.

For the roasted chicken:
1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (or other assorted chicken pieces), rinsed and patted dry
1 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
2T smoked paprika
2T red chile powder
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • In a large baking dish (I used 13x9-inch Pyrex), arrange onion wedges. Season chicken with S&P and sprinkle with paprika and chile powder on both sides. Arrange chicken pieces over onions, and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Roast in oven for about 40-45 minutes, turning chicken over after 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
For the polenta:
3 cups water
1 cup polenta
1 T butter
Salt and pepper
  • Bring water to a boil in a 2-quart pot. Add a big pinch of salt.
  • Add polenta in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Continue whisking as mixture comes back to boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, whisking frequently so the polenta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot, until the polenta is very thick. It will be more challenging to whisk at this point -- I know when it's about done when my whisking arm starts to hurt!
  • Turn off heat and stir in butter, XVOO, and S&P to taste. Serve immediately.
  • Note: As polenta cools, it will begin to solidify. If this happens, add a little water and reheat over a low flame, whisking until it is creamy again.


  1. The chicken looks so moist and flavorful. I love the idea of polenta too. You have a really interesting blog. Love the recipes!

  2. thanks! My mom gave me a jar of the Hungarian hot paprika today so I'll be trying it next time.