Ethnic cookbooks are often filled with techniques and recipes that will make you smile even before the food hits your plate. You may see something you suddenly remember your grandmother made. Or, you may discover the origins of a technique that has become a world favorite.
Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking delights Suzen with this chicken recipe much like her grandmother made. And the garlic and paprika rub here offers a sparkling flavor to that chicken, plus some insights into how modern day rubs have evolved. That knowledge is for me, the male in the family, the barbeque guy.
As Arthur notes, Jewish mothers were using rubs long before “rub culture” became part of contemporary cuisine. The original rub here in this country featured what was culturally familiar, available and affordable on the Lower East Side: garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Arthur’s “rub” actually becomes a “paste” with the addition of some oil. With his technique, butterflied chicken is smeared with the paste and that same paste is also tucked under the skin as well. The result is a double dose of flavor that truly penetrates into the meat. And, it’s quite a flavor. You can have this dish on your table is just an hour, including prep.
For Suzen, this is comfort food and she turns to this recipe when she “just wants chicken.” I’m delighted to pick up knife and fork and share every morsel of flavor. My Scottish grandmother knew how to boil chicken. I have definitely come out ahead.
Oh, the recipe calls for sweet paprika. I came back to the shopping cart with “hot.”
“I can’t send you to find anything,” Suzen observed. She took the “hot” and returned with the “sweet.”
“I looked,” I protested. “I just did not see it.”
“You are so lucky your %$#@ is connected to your body,” she commented. I think she meant it.
Garlic and Paprika Rubbed Roast Chicken
Yield: serves 2 to 4 [with 4 people, you can forget leftovers for spectacular chicken salad]
- 6 large cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
- 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons corn, canola, or peanut oil
- 1 3-4 pound whole chicken
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a small bowl, blend together the garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and oil.
On a cutting board, cut the chicken in half alongside the backbone. Cut out the backbone. (I like to roast the backbone alongside the chicken, allowing myself the pleasure of eating it—the cook’s share.) Place the chicken, skin-side up, and press the butterflied chicken down to flatten it. Massage the chicken on both sides with the garlic-paprika paste, pushing some of it under the skin. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on a jellyroll-type baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into serving pieces.
Source: Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking