Roast chicken with smoked paprika and sherry

Illustrated Yellow OnionI bought a gorgeous glass jar of smoked paprika while on holiday in Barcelona with Jon, and have been looking for excuses to use it. Not only because it tastes so darkly different from any of the other peppery spices, but because of its extreme beauty – more a Velazquez-esque pigment ready for mixing and painting than a condiment.

Here it burnishes the skin of a bronzed and glowing chicken.

Ingredients (serves 4-6 depending on the generosity of the portion and the number of sides offered)

I chicken (buy it ready to roast, life’s too short to de-giblet a chicken)
4 small onionsSpoonful of smoked paprika
1 lemon
½ cup dry sherry
Smoked Paprika (6tsp)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

  • Pre heat the oven to 400
  • Peel and quarter the onions and lay them in the middle of a roasting tin
  • Rinse the chicken (inside the cavity too) then pat the skin dry with a paper towel
  • Rub 1tbsp of olive oil onto the skin and season generously with salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle the skin with 5 tsps of paprika
  • Season the cavity with salt and pepper and 1tsp of paprika
  • Chop the lemon into quarters and stuff inside the cavity
  • Pour the sherry into the tray
  • Put the chicken on top of the onions – this acts as a sort of natural trivet keeping it out of the liquid – and roast for an hour or so, depending on the size of the chicken. Start checking the temp after ¾ of an hour. It must be 180 in the thigh.
  • Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes then serve with the gravy that’s in the tin.

Do you want to make it fancier?

  • Roast a Cornish hen instead – one per person. This takes about 45 mins to cook – check after 40mins.
  • Mix 2 tsp of paprika into 1tbsp of soft butter. Press under the skin of the chicken, being careful not to tear it. Cook as above.
  • Add a tsp of saffron threads to the sherry

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a green salad with just a squeeze of lemon
  • Or with chick peas warmed through in some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, with a handful of arugula quickly wilting in the heat.
  • Or with chick peas warmed through with olive oil and lemon, and some strips of pepper from a jar
  • Or with some rice – take it in a vaguely paella direction by frying an onion and a minced clove of garlic first, then adding the rice, and covering with hot stock instead of water.
  • Or with a big bowl of roasted vegetables
  • Or with some crusty bread and some roasted cherry tomatoes

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