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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga | Bram Stoker's Dracula

Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga | Bram Stoker's Dracula
Welcome to the final installment of the All Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge for 2016. Our December challenge was what could probably be considered THE vampire story of vampire stories, Dracula. While there have been many retellings of Bram Stoker's tale, the movie we watched this month was the '92 Francis Ford Coppola version starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, and Winona Ryder.

The movie - Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992):

Oh, the movie...the dreaded movie. I'm just going to go ahead and say it—I hate this movie. I didn't like it the first time I saw it so many years ago, but decided to give it a chance after I'd finished the book. That just made me think even less of the over-sexed, over-boobed, bastardization of Bram Stoker's original work. I thought the acting was horrible (sorry Keanu, you're pretty and all, but) and the screenplay was so far off from the original story that I don't know how they could still get away with calling it "Bram Stoker's" Dracula.

I had to fast-forward through the second half of the movie, stopping now and again to cringe at a scene I thought might be important. Ick, ugh, yuck. Moving on.

I want to note that there are plenty of Dracula retellings that I enjoy, this just isn't one of them.

The book - Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897):

Okay, THE BOOK! This was my first time reading Dracula. And in all honesty, I didn't read it, so much as I listened to it and followed along in the book, underlining and making notes. It's a long book, written in a very old style that I thought I'd have a hard time getting through, so I listened to the audiobook.
Bram Stoker's Dracula: All Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge
And do you know what? I really enjoyed listening to it! I had no idea what to expect, but it's basically a compilation of the journals and diaries of a group of people who find themselves living in the midst of unheard horrors.

Count Dracula himself actually plays a very small direct role, as it's more the story of the people he has encountered, their lives and deaths, and their loved ones and acquaintances. There is so much vampire lore and legend laid out, and Dracula is actually able to shift forms from man to bat to wolf-like creature.

This is a particularly long passage, but one of my favorites from the book, where Professor Van Helsing (who, by the way, I had no clue was a product of Dracula) lays out the reasons that, while poweful, Dracula is not actually free.

He can do all these things, yet he is not free. Nay; he is even more prisoner than the slave of the galley, the madman in his cell. He cannot go where he lists; he who is not of nature has yet to obey some of nature's laws—why we know not. He may not enter anywhere at first, unless there be some one of the household who bid him to come; though afterwards he can come as he please. His power ceases, as does that of all evil things, at the coming of the day. Only at certain times can he have limited freedom. If he be not at the place whither he is bound, he can only change himself at noon or at exact sunrise or sunset. These things are we told, and in this record of ours we have proof by inference. Thus, whereas he can do as he will within his limit, when he have his earth-home, his coffin-home, his hell-home, the place unhallowed, as we saw when he went to the grave of the suicide at Whitby; still at other time he can only change when the time come. It is said, too, that he can only pass running water at the slack or the flood of the tide. Then there are things which so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of; and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, that was amongst us even now when we resolve, to them he is nothing, but in their presence he take his place far off and silent with respect. There are others, too, which I shall tell you of, lest in our seeking we may need them. The branch of wild rose on his coffin keep him that he move not from it; a sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he may be true dead; and as for the stake through him, we know already of its peace; or the cut-off head that giveth rest.

Relating to food, plenty of sherry, brandy, and tea was mentioned throughout, plus fruit trees, garlic (of course), "kawffee" and "cured herrin's". There was also a mention that somebody's father created Burnt Rum Punch, which I still want to try, but first have to get my hands on some sugar cones and fire tongs. I found them online at, but there's a German market a couple of towns over that I'll try first, to see if I can avoid shipping costs.

Most of the descriptive talk of food in the book happens fairly early on, in the journal of Jonathan Harker. Much of it inspired the recipes I'm sharing today, which I'll talk about below. But there was also mention of "robber steak", described as bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire.
Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga

The Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga:

Harker's very first journal entry mentions stopping at a hotel in Klausenburgh (known today by the name Cluj-Napoca, capital of the province of Transylvania in Romania) and having "a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good [...] it was called "paprika hendl," and it was a national dish" for supper.

The next morning, after a restless sleep...

I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was "mamaliga," and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call "impletata".

And shortly after arriving at Count Dracula's "vast ruined castle", Dracula himself serves Jonathan a meal. This is one of the few parts that is mirrored in the movie.

The Count himself came forward and took off the cover of a dish, and I fell to at once on an excellent roast chicken.

Since I've already shared a recipe for Chicken Paprikash (and one for Chicken Paprikash Soup), I went a slightly different route and made a roast chicken that was bathed in a paprika-honey-butter sauce and served it over the aforementioned, mamaliga (a Romanian maize porridge which is very similar to polenta, grits, and cornmeal mush).

This hearty, stick-to-your-bones dish was perfect comfort food. I loved the way the mamaliga soaked up the flavor from the extra pan juices! One day I'd love to make an entire Dracula Menu that includes not only these dishes, but also Impletata (sausage stuffed eggplant), and the Burnt Rum Punch that I mentioned earlier. I'll most likely include some mini garlic custards garnished with garlic flowers, and a nice green salad, as well.
Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga
The All Vampire Book and Movie Challenge is hosted by Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles, and meets monthly to discuss a predetermined book and movie relating to vampires. Sometimes the book and movie may be the same (or an adaptation), others they may relate in a more obscure manner.

Once we've read the book and watched the movie, we write a blog post discussing them and how they relate or differ, and perhaps share something that it inspired us to make. Our final assignment of 2016 was Bram Stoker's Dracula, the book and the 1992 movie.

Until then, let me know if you'd read this book and/or seen the movie - and what you thought about either. Also, check out Kimberly's Dracula thoughts here or check out all of my Vampire Book and a Movie Challenge Recipes here!

yield: serves 6-8print recipe
Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga

Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga

prep time: 15 MINScook time: 35 MINStotal time: 50 mins
Chicken coated in a smoked paprika-honey paste, then roasted and served over mamaliga, a Romanian maize porridge.


For the chicken:
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 (3.5 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2"-thick wedges
For the Mamaliga (Romanian Cornmeal Porridge):
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal (sometimes labeled grits or polenta)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, tarragon), optional


Make the chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 500° F; place rack in upper third of oven.
  2. Combine first 7 ingredients for the chicken in a large bowl until smooth. Add chicken pieces and onions; toss to coat. Pour everything into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or similar sized dish), with the chicken is skin side up, making sure to scrape all of the paprika paste into the pan.
  3. paprika paste
  4. Slide into hot oven and bake until chicken is just cooked through (should register 165° F on an instant-read thermometer), 30-35 minutes.
Paprika Roast Chicken over Mamaliga
Make the mamaliga:
  1. In the meantime, put the water, butter, and salt in a medium-large pot and bring to a full boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir costantly as you gradually add the cornmeal, stirring constantly.
  2. Reduce heat to low and and simmer, stirring often, until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, 30-35 minutes. If using, immediately stir in the sour cream and herbs.
To serve:
  1. Serve chicken and onions over the hot mamaliga, spooning a little extra paprika butter from the pan over the top.
Created using The Recipes Generator