One of the very first cookbooks I bought was The Wine Lover's Cookbook, which is divided up by type of wine that pairs well with each dish. Some of the dishes were extremely ambitious for someone learning how to cook. When you don't really know what you're doing, an ingredient list with more than a dozen things can be pretty daunting. But, I figured out that a lot of the ingredients for this Chicken Paprika with Almond Relish were spices and small things that got chopped up and tossed into a bowl, so I decided to give it a try. It was also paired with viognier, which is one of my favorite types of white wine. One of my favorite viogniers is Yalumba's Y Series Viognier. It's fruity, but not too sweet like some Rieslings can be. Also, the price is right at $15 or less.
The picture below is from two nights ago. After the jump is my version from 2007, guest starring Dave's lap. When I was first learning how to cook, making more than one thing at a time was a little too complicated, so the result was a chicken breast plopped on a plate and covered some sauce and a ton of relish. If you squint, you can see that there is, in fact, some chicken under the mountain of relish. :) The book suggests serving this with egg noodles or spaetzle and I always have egg noodles around, so now I put the chicken on top of egg noodles with caraway seeds mixed in.
As the book says, having both hot and sweet paprika really makes this dish tasty. Back in 2007, I omitted the mushrooms because Dave hated them. Since then, he's decided he likes mushrooms so long as they're thinly sliced and not used as a meat substitute. The mushrooms add a depth to the sauce that was lacking without them. I don't really like peaches, and I've always got dried apricots around. They're a good source of potassium and they keep forever. So, my relish is always with apricots. The caraway seed in the relish stops it from being too sweet and ties it into the sauce, which also has caraway seeds.
About 2 years ago, we bought white dishes. The blue dish from the picture below is part of my dish set from law school. Blue and green are my favorite colors, and so blue dishes were right up my alley. Then, I started watching the Food Channel and began to crave white dishes. All of the nice restaurants I went to used them, and I thought that food looked better on a white background. Also, there is no blue food (except for blueberries), so my food never looked quite right with blue dishes. I'm so happy that I invested in some white, modern looking dishes. I think my food looks better on them.
Here is the picture from 2007. Back then, I had pretty poor aim with sauce. (Yes, the dining room table is the proper location to store remotes).
When halving this recipe to serve 2, I messed with the ratios a little bit since saying 3/8 of a cup of something is kind of silly. I also like a splash more vinegar in the relish to balance the sweetness of the apricots. I didn't halve some of the spices, including the paprika, where I probably added a little bit extra.
Chicken Paprika with Apricot and Almond Relish
From The Wine Lover's Cookbook
Pair with Viognier or alternatively, Riesling
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (or peaches if you prefer)
1 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp chopped toasted almonds
1 Tbsp chopped green onions
1 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley (I was out of green onions so I just used 2 Tbsp parsley and it was fine)
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp chopped lemon zest (I used a microplane so no need to chop it)
Chicken and seasonings
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp chopped (or microplaned) lemon zest
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup sliced yellow onion (slice this pretty thinly)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp caraway seed
1/4 cup chicken stock
a heaping 1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
2 servings dried egg noodles
caraway seed to taste
1) Make the relish. To toast the almonds, heat a small pan and add almonds and heat them until they smell toasty, shaking the pan periodically. Then mix all the relish ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
2) Prepare the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt, hot paprika, sage, and lemon zest.
3) Brown the chicken. In a pan that is large enough to eventually hold the chicken and all of the sauce ingredients, heat the butter and oil. Brown chicken on both sides and remove from the pan. Pat dry.
4) Make the sauce. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary. Add onions and garlic, and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until onions become translucent. Add the mushrooms, marjoram, sweet paprika, and caraway seed. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add chicken stock and sour cream and mix very well. Make sure the sour cream is fully incorporated.
5) Return the chicken to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 10-12 minutes. I turned the chicken over at the halfway point. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6) While chicken is cooking, boil some egg noodles according to their package. Mine needed 8 minutes. Drain the noodles and toss with some caraway seeds.
7) Place chicken on top of noodles and spoon some sauce on top. Top with relish.