It’s time to stack away your salad bowls and bring out your slow cooker!

Winter is the time to roll out those comfort foods, and there’s nothing nicer – or easier – than a meal you can throw into your slow cooker in the morning, and come home to at the end of the day. This recipe is Allyson Gofton’s version of Paprika Chicken, from her latest book, SLOW Cooked. We couldn’t resist giving it a try!  It’s definitely worth sharing!

                     Paprika Chicken                                 by Allyson Gofton

   Serves: 6-8           Preparation time: 20 minutes                    Cooking time: low 5-6 hours, high 3-4 hours

12 chicken drumsticks

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon onion salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 bacon steaks or 4-6 rashers bacon, thinly sliced, optional

2 onions, peeled and sliced

250-350 grams button mushrooms, halved

420-gram can condensed tomato soup

½ cup water

½—1 cup sour cream, optional

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Variations

• In place of the bacon use 1 ham steak.

• Use 400-gram can diced tomatoes and ½ cup tomato paste in place of condensed soup. Try a flavoured variant like tomatoes with garlic,

• Add ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or chives before serving.

Most family cupboards have at least one, if not two, cans of condensed tomato soup – ready for the feed-the-family-in-a-hurry emergency, though they also make a great base for a family casserole. I’ve added plenty of paprika here – just the plain unsmoked variety which, depending on the brand, may be sweet, bittersweet, hot or spicy. Paprika has warm, caramel-like notes with a hint of smokiness, that work a treat with the sweetness of the tomato soup. Adding a few olives and sliced chargrilled red capsicum when serving would quickly and easily lift this dish from family fare to dinner-to-share-with-friends status.

Turn the slow cooker on to low to pre-warm while gathering and preparing the ingredients.

In a plastic bag or large lidded container, put the chicken drumsticks, paprika, onion salt and garlic powder and shake to mix evenly. At this stage, the chicken can be refrigerated overnight if wished.

If wishing to brown the ingredients, heat a dash of oil in a heavy-based frying pan and, when very hot, brown the chicken drumsticks quickly and evenly.

Do not overcrowd the pan as the chicken will stew and not brown. Brown the bacon if using and onion, too, if wished.

Into the pre-warmed slow cooker put the chicken, bacon if using, onion and mushrooms. In a jug, mix together the condensed tomato soup and water and pour over the chicken pieces. Turn the pieces to coat as well as possible and cover with the lid.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken drumsticks are well cooked. Gently mix in the sour cream if using or dollop on top.

Serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables or a baked potato and crisp salad.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.