chicken paprikash

Although I’ve been to Hungary twice, for some inexplicable reason I never had chicken paprikash (paprikás csirke) until I made it myself.  I really don’t know why since I love paprika, chicken and sour cream so it’s kind of an obvious sell for me.  Anyway, I was inspired to try make it for the first time this past winter after seeing Lynn Crawford make it on her Food Network show.  I’ve made this a number of times now and we love it though, since I’ve only had my own chicken paprikash, I cannot say how authentic it is or how it tastes compared to chicken paprikash you’d get in Hungary.  Guess we need to go back to Hungary for a visit in the future to find out!

Anyway, I’ve scoured the internet for recipes (for more hours than I’d like to admit) and it seems like there’s a hundred variations on how to make this.  I guess it’s like spaghetti sauce; everyone thinks theirs is the best.  I adapted this recipe from Lynn Crawford’s and while I’m pretty sure wine and red peppers are traditional ingredients, I like how this turns out so I’m sticking with it.

Just a couple of things.  You must use Hungarian paprika, not the generic shit you can get at the regular supermarket.  I’ve tried it before with regular paprika, which in comparison is pretty flavourless, and it’s just not even worth your time.  We had really great hot paprika and sweet paprika that we brought back from Budapest but I used it all up so I had to hunt some down.  There’s none in Moose Jaw but I did find some at the Italian Star Deli in Regina and it shouldn’t be difficult to find in any specialty grocery shops that sell imported items.  I also like to add some tasty Hungarian paprika paste called Piros Arany (translates to Red Gold) that I picked up in Vancouver.  I’ve been told by some Hungarians here that it’s a super popular condiment back home.  If you can’t get a hold of any though, that’s totally fine.

This makes enough to serve 5 to 6 people so feel free to halve the recipe.  But this is actually great as a leftover meal and we think the paprikash sauce is possibly even better the next day.

~ 4 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks with the skin on and bone in (this was 6 thighs and 8 drumsticks which is what happened to be available at the supermarket)  /  1 tbsp olive oil  /  1 tbsp butter  /  2 red peppers /  2 small onions  /  4 cloves garlic  /  4 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika  /  3-4 tbsp Hungarian hot paprika  (use more or less depending on how much heat you want and can substitute with more sweet paprika if you’d like)  /  2 tbsp Piros Arany paste (optional)  /  4 heaped tbsp all-purpose flour  /   3 – 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock  /  1/2 cup white wine  /  2 cups full-fat sour cream  /  salt and pepper to taste

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First for your prep; dice up the red peppers and the onions and mince the garlic.  Now in a large dutch oven or pot (minimum size 5 quarts), heat up the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  In 2 separate batches, sear the chicken on both sides until the skin is starting to turn golden brown.

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After searing the chicken, take out the chicken and set aside on a plate.  You’ll be left with a sizzling hot combo of butter, olive oil and chicken fat in the dutch oven which is obviously awesome.  Throw in the red peppers, onions, garlic and sauté until the onions are turning translucent.  Next, mix in the hot and sweet paprika and the flour and let that cook for another couple minutes.

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Splash in the white wine and let it simmer off a bit and then stir in your chicken stock.  You only need as much stock as to mostly submerge the chicken pieces so you can add maybe 3 cups or so first and then see how that works out before adding more.  Season with some salt and pepper to your taste.  Then add the chicken back in and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Pop the lid on and let it simmer away for about 35 to 40 minutes.  The chicken should be cooked through by then but of course you should check.

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Take the chicken pieces out of the sauce and then for the final step, you add the sour cream.  Apparently, according to my obsessive chicken paprikash research, sour cream can curdle if you just add it straight to your hot sauce so you have to temper it first.  You can do this by gradually stirring in some of the sauce into the sour cream to bring its temperature up and then adding it to the rest of the sauce.  Stir in the sour cream and just let it cook for a couple minutes.  Add the chicken back to the sauce and you’re all done.

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You can eat this with egg noodles, spaetzle, potatoes, rice… We had it this time with a nice sliced up baguette to sop up all the yummy paprikash sauce.

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