Little Red Rooster – Quick Chicken With Paprika

“You can rouse the world
From its shell of cloud
And molten

Caroline Hawkridge, Cockerel


Why have I called this recipe ‘little red rooster’? Well…. red for May (Labour Day etc)… and because I went to see a wonderful dance performance choreographed by Christopher Bruce which was to Stones’ music. The most successful song was Little Red Rooster – see clip below.

The dish itself is a complete dawdle – almost instant – and red because of the paprika – make sure you use a good quality fresh one and not something that has been knocking around at the back of your larder for years. You can download Little Red Rooster here – the music will last as long as the time it takes to prepare the dish (well, it might take a bit longer if you start emulating the dance moves – I swear it tastes better if you do – you can always play the song again if the music runs out)!

Little Red Rooster sauce will keep in the fridge and reheat – you can make the rice later, and it also goes well with pasta. It goes particularly well with a thick, robust ratatouille; a tian; or caponata which also keeps well (indeed it often improves as the flavours meld together). Alternatively you can serve it with a green salad – a borage and watercress salad would be very good.


Recipe for a rousing little red rooster


for four


  • You want Spanish smoked paprika - Santo Domingo is a great make
    You want Spanish smoked paprika – Santo Domingo is a great make, as is La Chinata. Get the best quality you can find, one from the DOP region in Extremadura, because this dish is all about the sensuous, sinuous flavour of this wonderful ingredient. Sweet paprika is good, but there is also a bittersweet which is interesting. Don’t use the picante (spicy) for this recipe.

    a knob (10g/1 tbsp) butter

  • four half chicken breasts (total weight, about 570g/1¼lbs)
  • 1 can Cambell’s condensed cream of celery soup
  • 4 tsp Spanish sweet smoked paprika (aka pimentón)
  • 160ml/⅔ cup sour cream or Greek yoghurt 
  • 2 tsp dry vermouth – ideally Noilly Prat but Martini is fine

for the rice:

  • 3 cups (720 ml) – the important point here is that it is twice the amount of the rice – water
  • 1 knob of butter (approx 10g)
  • 1½ cups (10½ oz, 300g) of basmati rice – Tilda or Badshah is the best most easily available. For more about basmati and why it’s so special go here.
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (or beef or fish cubes as appropriate)
  • 1 level tsp turmeric
  • couple of pieces of cinnamon about 1½”/about 5cm long
  • salt and pepper 


cook the rice:

  1. boil water
  2. put butter in a casserole dish and melt
  3. add rice, stir to cover with the melted butter (this helps to keep the grains separate)
  4. measure out one cup of boiling water, dissolve the stock cubes in it
  5. add the stock, the rest of the water, and stir in the turmeric, salt and pepper
  6. put the lid on the pan and either put in the bottom right aga oven for 15 minutes, or turn down the heat of the hob and continue to cook for about 15 minutes, resisting the temptation to fiddle with it! You don’t want to damage the delicate grains, the starch will be released and it will become sticky and stodgy. Also, if you take the lid off to look steam will escape, water will be lost, the temperature will drop and you will extend the cooking time. If you notice any liquid when you tip the saucepan it probably needs a couple of minutes longer.
  7. add the cinnamon at the last minute
  8. once finished you can cover with a tea towel for a two or three minutes and then fluff up with a fork
  9. if it needs to be kept warm for more time then put the lid back on otherwise it will dry out, but the sooner it’s eaten the better


cook the chicken:

    1. cut the chicken into thin strips and fry  in the butter for about ten minutes until well browned on all sides
    2. stir in the soup and paprika and get it boiling. cook for another five minutes
    3. add the vermouth
    4. stir in the sour cream or the yogurt – ensure the whole lot is well cooked through but do not overheat or it will separate.


chicken with paprika recipe
The yoghurt raises the game of this recipe


Choreographer, Christopher Bruce, has developed this dance version of Little Red Rooster, perfectly capturing the cockiness quality described in The Stone’s classic.


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