I used to think that paprika and parsley were just for show — nothing more than powdery red dashes on creamy devilled eggs, and verdant speckles breaking up the brown monotony of beef stew. Pretty, but expendable.
I understood the herbal intensity of parsley when I tasted whole leaves mixed into a butter lettuce salad. Next to the mildness of the other greens, the leaves were bracing, mineral and a little edgy, an ingredient to be used with care, not taken for granted.
Paprika and I had a similar moment after I bought a new tin to make chicken paprikash. When I opened it, an actual aroma wafted out. I dipped in a finger and took a lick. It was sweet and earthy, a less pungent cousin to the spicy New Mexico chile powder I adore for chili, which makes sense given that they’re both ground from dried red chiles.
This recipe celebrates these unsung ingredients, combining them with chicken and cherry tomatoes for an easy, gloriously colourful sheet-pan meal. Some of that colour comes from the cherry tomatoes, which create a sauce as they roast. Their juices leak onto the pan, condensing and mingling with the rendering chicken fat. Thin-skinned cherry and pear tomatoes tend to be juicier than sturdier grape tomatoes, but use what you have.
I also add bell pepper and mild slices of poblano chiles to the pan, to add complexity to the straightforward sweetness of the tomatoes, and to nod to the paprika, showcasing chiles in their fresh and dried states. There’s another good reason, too: Although there are many peppers in the markets right now, they start to shrivel as the weather gets colder. Roasting gives them a new life.
You can use any chicken parts for this dish, as long as they still have their bones and, preferably, skin for the richest flavour. I’m partial to drumsticks so I can eat them with my hands and gnaw on the cartilage. But white-meat lovers take heart: This dish works perfectly with bone-in breasts.
A sprinkle of Parmesan added before roasting lends tang. Then to finish, chopped parsley brings brightness and herbal depth, and yes, even more colour. But don’t think of leaving it out; it’s pretty, but not expendable.
Sheet-Pan Paprika Chicken With Tomatoes and Parmesan
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
1.3kg bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, drumsticks, thighs or a mix)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more for serving
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Espelette pepper or smoked hot paprika (pimenton)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pint cherry tomatoes (preferably different colours), halved
1 poblano chile or 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced sweet bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat oven to 218 degrees Celsius. Season chicken all over with salt, and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, paprika, Espelette and oregano. Pour over chicken, tossing to coat.
3. Add tomatoes, poblano and sweet peppers to baking sheet, spread vegetables around the chicken. Season vegetables lightly with salt and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle Parmesan all over chicken and vegetables.
4. Roast until chicken is golden, crisp and cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes. Stir the vegetables halfway through cooking but don’t disturb the chicken. If white meat is done before dark meat, remove it as it finishes cooking.
5. Transfer chicken to plates. Stir vegetables around in pan, scraping up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom and sides of pan, and stir in the parsley and black pepper to taste. Taste and add salt if needed, and a drizzle of vinegar if you like. Spoon vegetables over the chicken to serve.