With our daughters off at college, my husband and I were home on Sunday, staring at the jack-o-lanterns I carved (or rather, drilled—see instructional video), missing the kid-filled Halloweens of the past, with all the costume obsessing and sugar rushing. This year, we didn’t even know the name of Disney’s current ruling princess, whose dress was worn by a multitude of girls on Sunday, just as her predecessors’ gowns dressed up our daughters.
Nor did we buy any candy corn or Hershey bars, since our remote little cul-de-sac attracts few costumed candy seekers.
But we were determined to spice the holiday up, so I made Chicken From Hell for Halloween, a recipe I got from my friend Jeffie Lee. I was inspired to make it because it involves the heirloom tomatoes lingering in the farmers’ markets. but J.L. told me that the devil was in the details. “It’s the paprika, stupid,” he said.
Sure enough, throw in some of that Santo Domingo sweet smoked paprika (and a lot of crushed red pepper flakes) and this dish is just what you’d imagine The Devil himself might eat on Halloween. It’s hot ‘n smokin’ and, the ease of preparation would also probably please the Red Guy, who’s gotta be the underworld’s crabbiest cook.
As for his pre-prandial Halloween cocktail? My guess is it’s a Wicked Witch Martini…
Chicken From Hell
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon Santo Domingo sweet, smoked paprika
2 or 3 very ripe Heirloom tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
Rice for serving
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper and cook them in the oil until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Set the chicken aside and tent with foil.
2. Wipe out the pan and lower the heat to medium low. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, and then add the chopped onion and cook until it is soft and translucent, about ten minutes. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, the crushed red pepper and the paprika and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, wine and tomato paste and turn the heat up slightly until the sauce reaches a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is reduced and syrupy, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the crème fraiche.
3. Place the chicken breasts in the pan with the sauce, cover and cook, turning the chicken once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Serve the chicken with rice and lots of the sauce.