Although I have Hungarian lineage on both sides of my family, and I grew up enjoying dishes like Cabbage & Noodles, I somehow managed to get through four decades without ever having what is probably the most well-known dish from Hungary – Paprikash.
Who doesn’t remember the infamous scene with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally: “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my Paprikash.” That was basically my only reference to this dish. As I imagine is the case for many.
So, I finally decided to right what would probably be considered a cultural faux pas and make Chicken Paprikash. I’m so glad I did. It’s delicious! Rich, creamy, hearty and the perfect dish as the weather gets colder. It’s not complicated, but it does take a little while to truly build up all the flavors, and it’s so worth the time.
Traditionally the chicken is served with dumplings, which I included in this recipe. But, you can also leave the chicken pieces whole and serve it with mashed potatoes or rice if you’re looking to cut down on some of the work. Any starchy side that you can spoon lots of delicious sauce over would be great.
However you choose to make it, just be sure you make it. You won’t regret it and you’ll wonder where this tasty dish has been all your life. I know I did.
- Chicken, dark meat (8 drumsticks or 3 drumsticks & 3 thighs)
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 C. sweet Hungarian paprika *
- 1 C. chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C. sour cream
- 1 Tbs. flour
- Thoroughly dry each piece of chicken and season well with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan, over medium-high heat until hot. Add the butter to coat the pan, then add the chicken in a single layer, making sure not to crowed the pan. If you don’t have enough room, cook the chicken in two batches.
- Leave the chicken to thoroughly brown on one side (approximately 5-7 minutes), then turn and brown completely on the other side.
- Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cover, allowing them to steam for about 10 minutes. Then, remove the lid stir the onions and allow them to sautè until golden brown.
- Add the paprika to the onions, mix thoroughly into the onions, stirring for 30 seconds, just until the paprika becomes fragrant. Be careful not to let the paprika cook too long and burn as it will become bitter.
- Add the chicken stock, salt, and return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices in the bowl.
- Bring to a boil, then cover with the lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for about an hour, until the meat is falling off the bone.
- While the chicken is simmering, make the dumplings (see below).
- Once cooked, remove all the pieces of chicken from the pan to a clean bowl and allow to cool enough that it can be handled.
- While the chicken is cooling, whisk the flour into the sour cream until there are no longer any lumps.
- Before adding the sour cream to the pan, be sure to temper it by slowly adding a spoonful of the pan sauce to the sour cream and whisking thoroughly until each spoonful is incorporated and the temperature of the sour cream is warm.
- Once tempered, add the sour cream to the pan and mix until completely incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken. Do not allow to boil or else the sauce may split, keep the pan on a medium-low heat.
- When the chicken has cooled enough to handle remove all the meat from the bones and coarsely shred, returning the meat to the pan.
- Add the dumplings to the pan, thoroughly mixing all ingredients and allowing the dish to warm through before serving.
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 C. water
- 3 C. flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil
- In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, water, flour and salt until all ingredients are well incorporated and form a soupy dough.
- Using a spoon, scrape a teaspoons worth of dough into the pot of boiling water. Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until the dough rises and floats to the top. If you would like larger or smaller dumplings, simply adjust the amount of dough you scrape into the water. Dumplings will almost double in size as they boil.
- Remove the cooked dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl. Repeat process until all dough has been cooked.
*Tip: The key to a truly flavorful and authentic Paprikash is of course in the paprika. There are lots of variations of paprika out there and it can be a little confusing knowing which one to use. Make sure you use a sweet paprika, not smoked or hot. Some stores carry authentic Hungarian paprika, like Pride of Szeged. If you can’t find it in your local store you can also find some, like this one, on Amazon. In a pinch you can use regular paprika from your grocery store, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor as authentic Hungarian paprika.