Have you ever just needed comfort food...of course you have. Everyone just needs something sometime. A real comfort dish in my household has always been Chicken Paprikash. There are lots and lots of versions of this dish floating around and of course I've tweaked mine over the years to meet my tastes.
And it wasn't until recently that I took a bite of the rice portion of the dish after I added some smoked paprika (not a usual ingredient) that I proclaimed..."I want this in a taco". Yep, I have always been the "taco lady" but especially since I have delved into a year of culinary trends investigating smokey tacos and fermented foods for my work with Sargento (an absolute dream job for me).
So with my second bite of this smokey rice I immediately had flashbacks of my childhood vacation home in the Southern California mountains. We had a large, red wood burning stove that heated the whole cabin. There was more snow there than we ever knew what to do with. At a 7200 foot elevation, it was one of highest subdivisions in the San Bernardino National Forest.
We would arrive there on the weekends and it would take my Dad hours and hours to just shovel the path to get into the house. The stove would be lit immediately upon entering and would give off this smokey, toasty aroma that seemed to fill every breath we took (in a good way).
One bite of this rice, with the smokey paprika addition, took me back to those memorable days in the mountains where there was endless sledding, long walks in the forest and very hardy and heart-warming meals....all with a bit of smokey flavor. I honestly never knew how much I missed those days until I tasted this. Isn't it amazing how food has the power of unlocking memories that have otherwise been locked up and stored for so long.
To add another layer of smokey goodness to these unreal tacos, I used Sargento Pepper Jack cheese. Made with jalapeno and habanero chilis, this cheese rocks a taco with it's smokey taste and heat.
I can honestly say this is one of my favorite tacos of all time. A new staple in this house and hopefully yours too.
No words for this goodness. And one day I'm going to share with you all my absolutely favorite hot sauce, I put it on absolutely everything!
Smokey Chicken Paprikash Tacos
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- table salt
- black pepper
- white pepper
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 12 yellow corn tortillas
- 2 cups Sargento Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
- 2 avocados diced
- juice of one lime
- hot sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Generously season chicken thighs with salt and black and white peppers. Set aside.
- In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, add butter. Once melted, add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove chicken and set aside, keeping warm. Turn heat to low and add shallots, saute for one minute. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add sweet and smokey paprika, cayenne and turmeric; toast for about 30 seconds. Add water, deglazing pan. Return chicken to the water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low, simmering for 5 minutes. Once again, remove the chicken and set aside.
- Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. (stir once during middle of cooking process).
- Return chicken to the top of rice and cover. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Meanwhile, fry tortillas in oil over low heat until crunchy. Build each taco with rice on the bottom, chicken (slice or dice the chicken before adding to the taco), pepper jack cheese, avocado (squeeze lime juice over avocado) and finish with your favorite hot sauce.
Disclosure: I am currently working with Sargento Cheese over the next year as a Flavor Journey Correspondent. While I have been compensated for my time, as always, all opinions are my own. Please support this wonderful company that supports the creation of recipes such as these.