Back in August, I discovered an online recipe for smoked paprika chicken. This easy, elegant grilled entree seemed very much in the Slovenian spirit. I adapted the recipe slightly and served it as part of my Week 31 Dinner. Since then, it had become one of our favorites.
The prep is easy. Boneless chicken is pounded thin and then brushed with a simple paste of oil, smoked paprika and seasoned salt. Lots of it.
The Shiksa in the Kitchen, whose version of the dish first inspired me, cautions that it is important to not skimp on the salt. Don't worry, she says, the finished dish won't taste too salty.
By my old standards, she was right. But that was then and this is now, as the old cliché goes. The salt had to go.
I wasn't sure this particular dish could survive without the salt. I wasn't too worried about the change in taste. But I was concerned that the salt might be an essential component of the paste. It provided texture that the powdery paprika by itself did not. I suspected it might play a role in tenderizing the chicken or sealing in the juice.
But it was worth a chance. So I made the dish with the easiest possible substitution: A commercially prepared no-salt seasoning mix.
I am not a big believer in pre-mixed seasoning blends. We rarely use them. But I happened to have one on hand: Mrs. Dash salt-free garlic and herb blend. So that's what I used.
The chicken cooked beautifully on the grill. We sliced it and arranged it on a platter. My husband had prepared two salt-free side dishes: a mixed green salad and kasha with mushrooms.
As always, the chicken was moist and delicious. Everything was low-sodium Slovenian. Or at least Slovenian-inspired.
Whatever you call it, we enjoyed another LoSoSlo feast!
Smoked Paprika Chicken Breasts, salt-free
2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
1 T. smoked paprika
1 ½ T. olive oil
2 t. no-salt seasoning mix (I used Mrs. Dash garlic and herb blend)
Place chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap. Pound with the side of a sturdy plate (or, if you have one, a meat mallet) to flatten into a thin, even layer. Mix the paprika, oil, and no-salt seasoning mix into a paste. Rub into both sides of chicken. Refrigerate for a half hour.
Grill, turning when browned on one side. (Or use a broiler.) When done, remove to a platter. Let cool slightly. Slice into strips and serve.