Bon Appétit’s recipe for Roast Chicken Breast with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika is one of the first recipes I tried out when I was first making weeknight suppers for my family. It isn’t a very complicated recipe (which was a good thing, since back then, I had even less experience in the kitchen than I have now), and it shares some similar attributes with my family’s usual way of preparing chicken for supper.
Whenever my mum roasts chicken pieces for supper (usually chicken legs or thighs, she prepared whole roast chickens differently), she always makes a point of seasoning the chicken pieces with paprika. It’s a nicely fragrant and earthy spice, with a subdued flavour profile, and adds a rich colour to whatever meats you season with it. When I went looking for a recipe that I could try out, I immediately tried to find a chicken recipe that featured paprika. (Because my family was already familiar with it, and I knew we were sure to have it on hand in our spice rack!) A quick internet search containing the keywords “chicken” and “paprika” led me to Bon Appétit’s website, its catalogue of recipes, and this recipe which immediately appealed to me, of course!
Chickpeas (another name for garbanzo beans) are one of my favourite legumes, and this recipe features roasted tomatoes too, which I love. Cooking tomatoes intensifies their flavour, and can turn a bunch of humdrum hothouse tomatoes from the supermarket into a wonderful part of your meal (especially if you were to roast them with entire cloves of peeled and trimmed garlic—the buttery, nutty flavour of the cooked garlic tempers and offsets the tomatoes’ acidity nicely). Therefore, this recipe has become one of my go-to recipes when it comes to putting together a hot meal for my family (although I usually have to make a pot of rice as well since my dad doesn’t like chickpeas very much).
Paprika is essentially dried sweet red peppers which have been ground to a fine powder. It’s a popular component in Hungarian cooking, and generally Hungarian paprika is thought to be the finest paprika available in terms of quality and most flavour. (It’s probably safe to say that Hungarian paprika has the most cultural caché and value when it comes to the subject of paprika produced by region.) Hungarian paprika is divided into six sub-classes ranging from delicate in flavour and spiciness to powerfully flavourful and spicy. For the recipe today, I used a smoked paprika. Its colour is a brilliant red, its texture is soft and crumbling, and it has the most wonderful earthy and smoky aroma.
A lot of food companies and chefs use paprika specifically for its deep red colour (as paprika loses some of its flavour when it is heated), and often it is mixed with a bit of heated oil (or oil that will be heated) in order to disperse its colour through other ingredients. In this dish, it is mixed with extra virgin olive oil and mixed into an uncooked yogurt mixture as well as spread throughout ingredients that are set to be roasted at a high temperature for about twenty minutes or so. If the flavour of the paprika is reduced or overwhelmed by the flavour of the other ingredients in the roasting dish, it is still in full flavour effect in the cool and tangy yogurt mixture!
If I were to alter the recipe, I would perhaps add another half-tablespoon of paprika into the mix, and cut the oil measurement down a bit. I generally find that during the roasting process, a lot of water is released from the tomatoes and that provides sufficient liquid to keep the chicken from drying out (and even better, that liquid helps to ensure there’s never really an issue with ingredients sticking to the bottom of the pan, or scorching while they roast!). If you’d prefer to use skinless, and boneless chicken breasts for this dish, you absolutely can (that’s all I had on hand this time, and they worked out fine) although the bone-in sort may offer a bit more flavour to the meat as the bones themselves heat throughout the cooking process. I’ve never prepared the meal using skin-on, and bone-in chicken breasts, though I’m sure that using them would result in serving a fairly similar, delicious supper. Try this recipe the next time you’re looking for a quick, brightly coloured, and flavourful chicken supper! It would go great with a salad of dark, leafy greens tossed in a balsamic dressing, and with a hunk of soft, freshly-baked bread on the side.